“These innocent people lost their lives to a bunch of savage terrorists. This is why I entered politics. I want to protect us from war and terror.” The words of Martin Nordahl, leader of the National Movement on the anniversary of the bombing of Nørreport Station, Copenhagen, in which twenty-three people died.
The largest polling party in Denmark in the run up to the election, what is crucial is Nordah’s definition of “us;” with a strong anti-immigration stance and suspected but unproven connections to the far-right activist group Danmarks Sønner, “the Sons of Denmark,” should the National Movement come to power it will see the streets of the city cleared of all who are not seen as “true Danes.”
Living in the city with his widowed mother and younger brother, teenage Iraqi refugee Zakaria Ayub wants to do something to help his family, and Hassan Mahmoud has a plan; pairing Zakaria with Ali who takes him for late-night sessions of target practice and bonding in the woods, for the safety of their threatened community they must stop Nordahl before he comes to power.
A troubling film for troubled times, Sons of Denmark is the feature debut for writer/director Ulaa Salim, a near-future vision of the normalisation of white supremacy and xenophobia, but although billed as a political thriller it is for the most part an overlong drama of family and how politics impacts them, the innocents on the periphery who have no voice in the decisions which will shape their lives.
Mohammed Ismail Mohammed is Zakaria, his reasons understandable but the slope he is on dirty and slippery, willingly sliding towards the role of domestic terrorist not because it is right but because his family may find themselves without home or state, never considering that his actions can only justify the hatred of the Sons of Denmark, while Zaki Youssef is Ali, as close as a brother yet willing to put a gun in Zakaria’s hand and send him to assassinate a potential prime minster.
A sometimes distressing film of no easy answers, Sons of Denmark serves only to prove that the system as it stands doesn’t work, that bombing families makes orphans and enemies, that isolating rather the integrating exacerbates tension, that incarceration without rehabilitation reinforces radicalisation, and that the colour of a person’s skin is no guide to whether they are trustworthy or how far they will go to defend their family, or avenge them.
Sons of Denmark is available on dual format Blu-ray and DVD on Eureka’s Montage label from Monday 17th February