Christian Lollike wrote The Cake Dynasty as a reaction to the Danes’ paranoia of Muslim immigrants and refugees following the September 11 terrorist attack. This inspired him to turn the picture completely around and see Danish society from a new perspective.
“I am excited about attending the film festival,” says Christian Lollike about presenting the film at the NGO International Film Festival. “The film deals with racism and prejudices and since the humor is very Danish, I wonder how that will be seen and received.”
The Cake Factory is a satirical and slightly dark comedy, which is based on Christian Lollike’s own award-winning play from 2013. It revolves around the middle-aged cake factory owner Niels Agger (Nicholas Bro), who has lost his joy in life and whose business is close to bankruptcy. When he falls in love with a Muslim refugee from Iraq named Zeinab (Bahar Pars), his world is turned upside down.
“It is very difficult for me to say how the film fits in at the NGO IFF,” says Christian Lollike about his feature film. “I have never been to Kenya, but I have a few friends in Denmark from Kenya and we share the same kind of rough humor.”
The Cake Dynasty is Christian Lollike’s first feature film. The 50-year-old Dane is a prolific playwright and a well-known name in contemporary Scandinavian theatre, but directing a feature film is new territory for the accomplished writer.
“I think it is always up to the audience how they see the message of the film, but I see life as very unpredictable and you therefore have to be open for what is coming – and be willing to change.”
A commentary on Danish Society
The Cake Dynasty is a commentary on Danish society, and the cake factory could be seen as a mini version of Denmark itself. The film depicts how hard it is for the Danes to change the recipes of their cakes and the recipes of their lives to include new cultures.
“The idea started with the famous Danish word, which is ‘hygge,’” explains Christian Lollike about the inspiration for his film. “This word, which translated into English means something like ‘coziness,’ is very much connected to cakes and cookies. It is a tradition in Denmark to be cozy – to hygge sig – with cakes.”
At the same time, Christian Lollike also diagnosed Danish society as being obsessed with body image. From his point of view, the Danes have two obsessions.
“One has to do with our body and looking good and slim and fit all the time. The other has to do with our relationship with people with a Muslim background. We have been questioning whether they are terrorists for instance because of what happened on September 11 in the US. Furthermore, I do believe that the two obsessions are somehow connected: The fact that we are obsessed with our looks and being somehow perfect and the fact that we have a hard time tolerating people from other cultures.”
In the film Christian Lollike portrays a middle-aged Dane in a midlife crisis, who eagerly converts to Islam. The director was very careful to treat the subject with a lot of respect.
“I have many friends with a Muslim background, whom I talked to and I also consulted with the actors in the film. I used a lot of real stories told to me by people, who had come to the country and I tried to stay as close to reality as possible even though the story becomes quite grotesque.”
In the beginning of the film both Niels and Zeinab are portrayed as clichés. Zeinab is the Iraqi cleaning lady, who has the lowest job in the factory. So she starts out as a cliché. And so does Niels. He is a Danish middle-aged man, who is lost and has no joy in life.
“But then I tried to add different kinds of skills and characteristics that were surprising about both of them. It turns out she knows a lot about hunting and they go hunting together. She also jokes about pornography, which might come as a surprise from a Muslim woman.”