HCA NEWS International HCA gathering in Copenhagen

Croatia, the Faroe Islands and Denmark meet at the newly refurbished Court Theatre at Christiansborg Palace

By Oliver Newton - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 18 January 2005

Hans Christian Andersen bicentennial projects endorsed by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation were presented at an international gathering in Copenhagen on 18 January 2005.

The presentation of the celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen was yet again given an enchanted setting; this time at the Court Theatre at Christiansborg Palace on 18 January 2005, 11:00 - 12:30 am, where an international gathering of guests convened in the magnificently refurbished venue. The Croatian Hans Christian Andersen projects were presented, including a book fair, a touring exhibition, and a national book project which seeks to promote reading among Croatian children. Apart from the presentation, the many guests enjoyed musical entertainment provided by Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and the Croatian cellist Monika Leskovar, who each performed music specifically chosen for the event.

Additionally, two Croatian, one Faroese and three Danish Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors were appointed. This international team of Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors was appointed by HRH Prince Joachim of Denmark, who spoke of Hans Christian Andersen and the six new Ambassadors with great enthusiasm. The six new Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors, who are all to promote the wider awareness and appreciation of the great storyteller and his many fairytales, are Monika Leskovar and Vinko Bresan from Croatia, Eyðun Johannessen from the Faroe Islands, Palle Mikkelborg, Paprika Steen and Jens Okking from Denmark.

The event concluded with a reception and a presentation of Croatian wines sponsored by the Croatian Tourist Board and the wine merchant Middelhavs Vine, and Croatian chocolates sponsored by Plivit Trade.

The event was co-hosted by the Croatian embassy in Copenhagen, Have PR & Kommunikation and the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation.

Press images from the event are available as downloads from the press archive at www.hca2005.dk.

Photo Have PR: From the left - HRH Prince Joachim, Jens Okking, Paprika Steen, Monika Leskovar, Vinko Bresan, Eydun Johannessen and Palle Mikkelborg

Facts on the Croatian Hans Christian Andersen projects
"Good Day, Mr. Andersen".
Project manager: Ranka Javor, MA, Head of the Croatian Children's Book Centre.
The Zagreb Library Service and the Croatian Children's Book Centre along with a number of other institutions will jointly host a wide range of activities for all ages throughout 2005.

The international touring exhibition organised by the Odense City Museums in Denmark and the National and University Library of Zagreb will be on show in Zagreb between 20 January and 20 February 2005. The Andersen exhibition will be followed by an art exhibition with original illustrations for works by Andersen by the internationally acclaimed Croatian artists Svjetlan Junaković, Dubravka Kolanović, Andrea Petrlik-Huseinović and Manuela Vladic-Mastruko.

A creative workshop will be hosted between January and March 2005 that focuses on the life and work of Hans Christian Andersen. The workshop will adopt both a visual and literary approach and will be attended by librarians, teachers and parents.

On the anniversary of Andersen's birth, 2 April, Andersen will be celebrated with a performance of The Little Mermaid at the Zagreb Puppet Theatre followed by an award ceremony for Best Essay and Best Illustration entered by children from all over Croatia. Furthermore, the new Croatian Andersen translation will be presented by the publishing house Mozaik knijga. The new edition of Andersen's fairytales will be illustrated by the Croatian illustrators Svjetlan Junaković and Dubravka Kolanović. The event with the exception of the award ceremony will be repeated at the international children's festival in Sibenik in June/July.

In May, an international conference will be presented on the subject of  "The Life and Work of Hans Christian Andersen" in association with the Teacher's College and university faculties in Croatia and Slovenia. Danish scholars will also attend. The aim of the conference is to promote the public awareness among children and adults alike of Andersen himself and the academic approach to the storyteller. In Croatia, not a single monographic work has been published on Hans Christian Andersen.

Yet another feature of "Good Day Mr. Andersen" is a national quiz competition promoting reading among children in Croatia as well as Croatian children abroad. Mozaik Knjiga will be the main host of the competition which will take place between September and November.

As a closing event, a ballet performance of Andersen's fairytale The Ugly Duckling will be staged at the Tresnja City Theatre in connection with the international book fair Interliber. Furthermore, an award ceremony will be held for the winners of the quiz competition.

The entire project will be followed by Croatian media: newspapers, weekly magazines, radio and TV.

Scretnja Knjiga (Croatia)
Project manager: Jadranka Zderi.
The Croatian publishing house will publish a collection of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales in a new translation by Durdica Z. Sørensen.

Profiles of the appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors 

Monika Leskovar, cellist
Born in 1981, Croatia. Monika Leskovar started to play the cello at the age of 7 and received international acclaim when at the age of 13 she won the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Japan. Since then she has performed with great orchestras and famous composers worldwide. Coloured by her charisma, professionalism and profound musical understanding combined with her unique technique, Monika Leskovar's rendition of the cello repertoire is truly remarkable.

Vinko Bresan, film director
Born in 1964 in Zagreb. Vinko Bresan holds a degree in philosophy and literature as well as cinematography and TV media. He has received numerous awards for his films including his short film Our Stock Market, which was awarded at the 34th Westdeutsche Kurtzfilmtage Oberhausen in 1998, and his documentary Lunch for All, which was awarded the title Best Documentary at the Croatian Film Awards in 1994. In early 2004, his third film Witnesses achieved international recognition when it was awarded the Jury's Peace Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. No matter his artistic approach, all Bresan?s films convey masterly storytelling. 

Vinko Bresan on his personal relationship with Hans Christian Andersen:
Many people's lives, mine included, have been influenced by the stories they keep returning to. This is why it is a great honour for me to be appointed Hans Christian Andersen's Ambassador. You see, the story to which I keep returning is the story about «The Little Match Girl».

Andersen has seen and described it all in this short fairytale: the horrors of domestic violence, the abuses of child labour, the tragedy and injustice of poverty. I bow deeply to him: he speaks to us, here and now. He tells us not to allow even a single child to think that quitting life, however tragic it might be, can ever be a happy ending for him or her.

That's what makes me believe that we all can, and must, light our own matches, just like a little heroine in Andersen's great story.

Eyðun Johannessen, theatre director
Born in 1938 in Tórshavn, the Faroe Islands. He graduated from the Royal Danish Theatre Drama School in 1957. He started his career as director of the Tórshavn Amateur Theatre 1961-70 and went on to direct and perform at Aarhus Theatre 1970-73. In 1976, he founded Gríma, the first professional theatre group on the Faroe Islands. In 1997, he received a lifelong grant from the Danish Arts Foundation, and in 2001 he was awarded the national Cultural Award by the Faroese Parliament, Løgtingið.

Eyðun Johannessen on his personal relationship with Hans Christian Andersen:
To me, Hans Christian Andersen is the great communicator of the crossroads between reality and the realm of art; between the inner and the outer, the open and the closed, love and hate, life and death. Hans Christian Andersen represents the uniqueness and magic of all art, its sense of beauty and ugliness, and an understanding of artistic experience.

Palle Mikkelborg, musician
Born in 1941. Autodidact trumpeter who started to play in 1956, and just 4 years later made it his living. As a member and later leader of the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra and the Danish Radio Big Band he developed a personal style of playing and composing. Up through the 1980s, Palle Mikkelborg toured Europe and Japan and recorded albums with Gil Evans Big Band, George Russel Big Band, Terje Rypdal, Jan Garbarek, Gary Peacock, Dinu Saluzzi and others. He has also been part of the successful Danish jazz trio Heart to Heart along with Kenneth Knudsen and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. In recent years, he has performed with his wife, the Welsh harpist Helen Davies. In 2001, Palle Mikkelborg received the Nordic Council Music Award in Oslo.

Palle Mikkelborg on his personal relationship with Hans Christian Andersen:
Hans Christian Andersen... I never thought that I would attempt to describe my relationship to him - it's like describing 'everything'... He has, after all, always been there, as the air I breathe, the flowers on the field, as part of my language, as great music that just WAS, like life itself. In recent years - and in my humble pursuit of meaning and peace - my intense reading of the ingenious works of Hans Christian Andersen has not only pleased and enthused me, it has also inspired me to ask the deep question: "Where does this profound knowledge and insight in all aspects of human life and existence stem from?" Is the 'higher purpose' that he was chosen to wander here on earth to communicate that which is eternal - The destiny we all share no matter our race, religion, etc. That he in his ingeniousness allows us all to read our own story - our own fairytale - and become wonderfully enlightened? I choose to believe that is the case... I thank you for the honour of being appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador.

Paprika Steen, actress
Born 1964. Paprika Steen is currently one of the most popular Danish actresses. Her breakthrough appearance was in the critically acclaimed Dogma film The Celebration from 1998, and since then her successful career has included the Danish movies The One and Only, Open Hearts, and Okay. She has received several awards for her acting, and recently she directed her first feature film, Aftermath.

Jens Okking, actor
Born in 1939. Jens Okking enjoys a very diverse and successful acting career on both screen and stage. Among his greatest successes are the TV productions Cop, The Kingdom, Old Men in New Cars and At klappe med een hånd. Furthermore, he is former MEP for Junibevægelsen. Jens Okking has nurtured an almost 40-year relationship with Andersen both as a writer, director, performer and lecturer, travelling nationwide. Furthermore, he has recorded a number of tapes. Recently, Jens Okking has embarked on recording all Andersen's 156 fairytales to be released on CD featured in a box set of 42 CDs.