A shooting in a Copehagen café over the weekend claimed the life of Danish documentary maker Finn Nørgaard.
Nørgaard worked with Danish broadcaster DR from 1989 to 2001, prior to co-founding the production company, Filmselskabet. The company has produced several documentaries, including 2004′s Boomerang Boy (with TV2, NRK and the Danish Film Institute), which followed a, Australian teenage boy with aspirations to become world boomerang-throwing champion, and Lê Lê (with DR-TV, DFI and SVT), which followed a family of Vietnamese immigrants who came to Copenhagen and opened Northern Europe’s largest Asian restaurant.
Nørgaard, 55, was shot by what police believe to be a lone gunman during a discussion of freedom of expression that also featured cartoonist Lars Vilks. According to news reports, three police officers were also injured during the shooting spree.
Police say the suspect then continued towards the city’s main synagogue, killed a man and wounded two police officers. The suspect was subsequently killed in a shooting exchange with police in the neighborhood of Norrebro. Two additional men have been charged by Danish police, who have not yet officially confirmed the identity of the assailant.
Filmselskabet producer Thomas Bartel is quoted in Norwegian newspaper VG as saying he believes Nørgaard was a “random victim” and was attending the debate out of personal interest. According to VG, the last project the team worked on together was a documentary focusing on children whose parents are in prison.
The European Documentary Network issued a statement offering condolences, which read in part: “Whether it was a well respected filmmaker who was cowardly murdered – practically on our doorstep – or 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were cruelly beheaded far away: every lost life is a tragedy. We mourn for each of them and share the pain of those that are left behind.”
The meeting Nørgaard had attended, entitled “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression,” took place at Krudttønden Cultural Center, a few blocks away from EDN’s office.
The International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam issued a statement via Twitter, which read: “IDFA mourns the death of filmmaker Finn Nørgaard, shot during attack in Copenhagen. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Henrik Bo Nielsen, managing director of the Danish Film Institute, shared his “shock and anger” via a statement which read in part: “”It’s essential that filmmakers and other artists participate actively in the public debate, not just through their works, but also as participants in the debate.”
Online doc news and industry analysis hub DocumentaryTelevision.com, created by Peter Hamilton, also mourned the loss, saying: “Our thoughts and prayers are with our Danish colleagues.”