The Banality of Grief

  • Jon Bang Carlsen
  • Denmark
  • 2021
  • 71 min
  • International Premiere
  • Masters

In an attempt to get his life back on track after the death of his wife Madeleine, Danish director Jon Bang Carlsen grabs his camera and throws himself into shooting a new film. But every time he looks through the viewfinder, he sees things that make him realize she’s gone. His film thus becomes, as he puts it, “a little stammering love letter.”

Carlsen has a formidable reputation as a documentary filmmaker with an idiosyncratic vision. He sometimes stages scenes and is not afraid of subjectivity. In Déjà vu (2015) he showed how events in his personal life have a major influence on his work. This now becomes his central theme. As he visits both familiar and new places, and films all kinds of people, from American teenagers to an old Hopi man, he shares his thoughts and memories with us in voiceover, while also addressing Madeleine. Sometimes pragmatic and philosophical, sometimes poetic and moving, his journey becomes an extraordinary form of mourning.


  • 71 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: English, Danish
  • Subtitles in: English
Jon Bang Carlsen
Jon Bang Carlsen for C & C Productions
Executive producer
Signe Byrge Sørensen, Heidi Elise Christensen
Jon Bang Carlsen
Martin Munck Schmidt, Thomas Papapetros, Jon Bang Carlsen

IDFA history

International Premiere

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IDFA history

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