From 1942 to 1944 Nazi Germany built the so-called Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion from Great Britain - an extensive system of coastal defense and fortifications along the coast of continental Europe and Scandinavia. Landmines were planted along great swathes of the West Coast of Denmark. There where more landmines per square meter on the Danish west coast than any other location along the entire European coast. Hitler was convinced that the Allied invasion would come via the Danish west coast since it is the shortest route to Berlin.
After the capitulation of Nazi Germany, the British liberation forces offered the Danish government the opportunity to enlist German POWs to defuse mines along the length of the Danish Western coastline.
The German POWs were neither educated nor equipped for this task and many belonged to the so-called Volkssturm, a national militia set up by Hitler towards the end of the war to conscript those not already serving for the German forces. Many were very young or old. The youngest were 13 years old.
To force German POWs to defuse mines was a violation of the 1929 Convention relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War prior to the amendment to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. By calling the German POWs 'voluntarily surrendered enemy personnel' British and Danish commands bypassed the rules of the Convention.
The work began on Saturday, May, 5 1945 and was completed on Thursday, October 1945.
According to historian Thomas Tram Pedersen, the exact number of the losses will never be known due to the chaos of the first months of peace. There are discrepancies between the Danish and German records.
After the war more than 2,000 German POW's were forced to remove over 1.5 million landmines from the west coast of Denmark.
The relationship between the German POWs and the local population was poor - the prize for five years of occupation under Nazi rule. There was no proper accommodation provided and food was constantly scarce.
In 64 countries around the world, there are an estimated 110 million undetonated landmines still lodged in the ground.
Since 1975, landmines have killed or maimed more than one million people.
On average, 20 people die every day due to landmine blasts.
Even with training, mine disposal experts expect that for every 5,000 mines cleared, one worker will be killed and two workers will be injured by accidental explosions.
The only way to deactivate a landmine is by individual removal at a cost of US$ 300- 1000 per mine according to the United Nations.
In just a few years, Roland Møller has become one of Denmark's most versatile talents. The 43- year-old rising star started his career in entertainment as a songwriter for the Danish rapper Jokeren before turning to acting in Tobias Lindholm and Michael Noer's 2010 prison drama R - a debut performance that earned Møller a Bodil nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He won in the same category for his performance in Tobias Lindholm's A Hijacking. In addition, Møller starred in Michael Noer's Northwest and Susanne Bier's A Second Chance. Sergeant Carl Leopold Rasmussen is Møller's first performance in a leading role.
Mikkel Følsgaard studied at the National Theatre School, and went on to win the Best Actor Award at the Berlin Film Festival for his portrayal of King Christian VII in Nicolaj Arcel's 2012 Oscar-nominated film A Royal Affair. He has since gained acclaim for his role in the TV series The Legacy. Additional film credits include Frederikke Aspöck's Rosita and Kasper Barfoed's Summer of 92.
18-year-old Louis Hofmann's screen career started in 2009 with his role as Tom Sawyer, in the film of the same name, for which he won the Bunte New Faces Award. In 2015 he won the Bavarian Film Award for Best Newcomer for Freistatt, and can next be seen in Alone in Berlin, Vincent Perez' adaptation of Hans Fallada's international bestslandofminer.
Joel Basman started his career in 2004 as a cocky teenager in the weekly Swiss soap opera Lüthi und Blanc. In 2007 he played an autistic boy in Tobias Ineichen's Jimmie, and won the 2008 Shooting Star Award for his performance as a Russian teenager in Luftibus by Dominique de Rivaz. Basman went on to play the part of Bertel in the controversial German mini-series Generation War. Earlier this year he won the German Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in When We Were Dreaming.
LAND OF MINE marks 16 year old twin brothers Emil and Oskar Lessner's debut performances They auditioned for the roles through casting director Simone Bär's nationwide casting process.
Born in 1971 in Fredericia, Denmark, Martin Zandvliet started his film career as an editor, working on documentaries. His first film as a director, Angels of Brooklyn, won the Danish Film Award for Best Long Documentary and was selected for various festivals including Toronto and Nyon. Following several shorts as a writer-director, Zandvliet directed his first feature film in 2009, the acclaimed Applause starring Paprika Steen, and produced by Mikael Rieks, who also produced LAND OF MINE. His second feature film was A Funny Man starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas. Zandvliet will next direct an action film about the Kursk submarine disaster for Luc Besson's EuropaCorp.
Mikael Rieks is one of Denmark's most renowned producers. Born in 1969, he was educated at the Copenhagen Film and Media School. He started his producing-career at the Youth and Children department of The Danish Broadcasting Corporation and produced television hits such as The Power of the Spirits, On the Edge of the World and the Emmy nominated show FC Nerds, before switching in 2001 to feature films. While at Nordisk Film Production he produced the acclaimed Ghosts of Cité Soleil, Karla's World and Overcoming. In 2008 Rieks created the film company Koncern Film. One of its first productions was Martin Zandvliet's debut feature film Applause, followed by Zandvliet No. 1 box-office Danish hit A Funny Man. In 2012 Rieks returned to Nordisk Film with a number of prestigious projects. LAND OF MINE is Rieks and Zandvliet's third film together.
Malte Grunert was born in 1967 in Berlin. After attending law school at the FU in Berlin, he started out in the film industry producing documentaries, before moving into TV drama working for various companies including Bavaria Film and CLT UFA. From 2006 until 2009, Grunert was head of the feature division at Studio Hamburg and went on to found Amusement Park Film in 2009. He has produced and co-produced 11 feature films to date, among them Perfect Sense, directed by David Mackenzie and starring Ewan McGregor and Eva Green. He also executive produced Mackenzie's "rock 'n roll romantic comedy" Tonight you're mine, filmed entirely on site at the T in the Park Festival. Most recently Grunert produced A Most Wanted Man, based on John Le Carré's novel and directed by Anton Corbijn, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams. He also co-produced Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner, which premiered in competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. His next project is the British/German co-production Remainder, video artist Omer Fast's debut based on a novel by Tom McCarthy, starring Tom Sturridge.
Camilla Hjelm Knudsen was born in 1974 in Denmark. After studying photography at the Danish School of Photography Fatamorgana, and New York's International Center of Photography (ICP), Knudsen studied cinematography at the National Danish Film School. One of her first movies as co-director and cinematographer was Angels of Brooklyn, for which she shared the Danish Film Award for Best Long Documentary with Martin Zandvliet, her husband. Her credits include Daniel Espinosa1s Outside Love and Annette K. Olesen's 2008 Little Soldier, for which she won the Best Cinematography Award at the Valladolid International Film Festival. LAND OF MINE is her second collaboration with Martin Zandvliet.
LAND OF MINE is Per Sandholt's third collaboration with Martin Zandvliet following Applause and A Funny Man. Sandholt's editing debut was on John Knattrup Jensen's short film Street (2003); he helped write and edit Nancy Montuori Stein's short Stealing Innocence (2003), and Asger Leth's Ghosts of Cité Soleil (2006). His other editing credits include Morten Hartz Kaplers controversial AFR (2007), Go with Peace Jamil by Omar Shargawis (2008) as well as the documentaries Armadillo (2010) and From Haifa to Nørrebro (2010).
Molly Malene Stensgaard was born in Copenhagen, where she graduated in film editing from the Danish Film School. She has worked on almost all of Lars von Trier's projects from the series The Kingdom, to The Idiots, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Manderlay, The Boss of it all, Melancholia and Nymphomaniac. From 2006 to 2010 she was commissioning editor for feature films at The Danish Film Institute, and was a member of the 2007 Berlin Film Festival's Jury.
Born in 1968, Sune Martin composed the music for two ballets at the Royal Danish Ballet in 2005 and 2006, and wrote the score for a 2007 documentary about David Lynch. Martin is a former member of the band Blue Foundation whose tracks were featured in films including Miami Vice, Twilight and Martin Zandvliet's Applause and a Funny Man.
Gitte Malling was born in Copenhagen in 1974. She graduated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006 and has since been working as art director and production designer on several Danish TV series, short and feature films. Malling debuted as production designer in 2007 on Outside Love and has since worked on productions such as Take the Trash, Awakening, Love & Rage. LAND OF MINE is Malling's second collaboration with Martin Zandvliet.
Born 1963 in Cologne, Stefanie Bieker started her career at the Residenz Theatre in Munich. Following a Degree in Costume Design in Hamburg she worked as a costume designer for numerous television and film productions, including the WW2 drama Lore by Cate Shortland for which she was nominated for the German Film Award and Australian AACTA Award in 2013.
Simone Bär founded the "CastingStudio" in 1990. Her extensive database and great talent for spotting ingenues has made her a much sought after casting agent for German and international productions. Bär was in charge of the German casting of The Monuments Men, The Book Thief, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Reader and A Most Wanted Man among others as well as Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon and Christian Petzold's Phoenix. In 2002 Simone Bär received the German Film Award for Casting.