Sons of Denmark




A promising new director presents a modern dystopia in his Danish homeland.


Sons of Denmark

Before the storm: Imad Abul-Foul, Mohammed Ismail Mohammed and Zaki Youssef


The ‘Sons of Denmark’ see themselves as the true proprietors of their northern kingdom. Following a terrorist bombing in the capital, anti-Muslim feeling has escalated, with a retaliatory group arming themselves for a confrontation with the country’s Arab minority. On the other side of the fence, the law-abiding Muslims have made Copenhagen their home and have grown-up there. They are lucky to have escaped unimaginable atrocities visited upon their forebears in Iraq and other war-torn hell-holes, but they can only take so much. And with new elections dominating the headlines, with the nationalist Martin Nordahl gaining enormous traction in the polls, Denmark is looking like a tinderbox. Zakaria (Mohammed Ismail Mohammed) may only be 19-years-old, but he feels duty-bound to retaliate against the far-right…


All this takes place in the near-future, but it might as well be today. The BNP’s Nick Griffin may be recent history, but there are other, newer forces set upon white-washing their own backyards. And still the evacuees flood into Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar… seeking refuge in a supposedly civilised society. Better a second-class citizen than a dead citizen.


The Copenhagen-born Ulaa Salim, a recent graduate of the Danish National Film School, is himself the son of Iraqi immigrants, but is intent on making more Eurocentric films. Here, with his film debut, he has arranged a box of narrative fuses to explode a Purge-like crisis, but has opted for a more human, slow-burn approach. Both Zakaria and his new friend, Ali (the impressive Zaki Youssef), come from comfortable homes and are compassionate family men. Consequently, the film attains a more accessible playing field, as well as a powerful, intense, brooding tone, often skipping off the more predictable path. The oafish politician (Danish comedian Rasmus Bjerg) promises his electorate to clean the streets of foreigners, but he, too, has a family, although his political past proves more suspect. Additionally, Salim gives his film added heft by crafting it with a documentary-like realism, the faces of his characters lit by alternating light sources. At times it even recalls the naturalistic brawn of Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, which is high praise indeed. If it is not a total success, it is because we never truly learn to care for the two main protagonists as more than political ciphers, in spite of their domestic ministrations.


Original title: Danmarks sønner.




Cast: Zaki Youssef, Mohammed Ismail Mohammed, Imad Abul-Foul, Rasmus Bjerg, Asil Mohamad Habib, Ivan Alan Ali, Özlem Saglanmak, Elliott Crosset Hove.


Dir Ulaa Salim, Pro Daniel Mühlendorph, Screenplay Ulaa Salim, Ph Eddie Klint, Pro Des Silje Aune Dammen, Ed Jenna Mangulad, Costumes Juan Bastias.


Hyæne Film/Det Danske Filminstitut-Eureka Entertainment.

123 mins. Denmark. 2019. Rel: 6 December 2019. DVD Release: 17 February 2020. Cert. 15.