In memoriam Ulrich Breuning, children’s film ambassador

At the age of 75, Ulrich Breuning passed away at the end of March 2021. Breuning was a beloved curator of children’s films in Denmark.


We asked Kim Bruun, chairperson of DaBUF (Danish Association of Children’s & Youth Film Clubs) to explain the importance of his lifelong friend for the Nordic children’s film movement. “As a film historian, Ulrich Breuning taught at the National Film School of Denmark, having a profound impact on Scandinavian filmmakers for a decade. Internationally, one of his claims to fame would be that he was the first to recognise the talent of young directors like Thomas Vinterberg (FESTEN, ANOTHER ROUND). In 1994 Breuning encouraged him to shoot THE BOY WHO WALKED BACKWARDS (arguably – a brilliant – children’s short film) and the rest is, as they say, history. Breuning also was the first children’s film commissioner for The Danish Film Institute, supporting titles that were later regarded as some of the best children’s films of all time: RUBBER TARZAN (Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, 1981) and BUSTER’S WORLD (Bille August, 1984) among others.”


“Throughout the years Breuning always remained a loyal friend to DaBUF. He held a seat on the board multiple times, and held his position as editor for our member magazine up to his very last days. And he was always available for one of his ‘legendary’ lectures, in which he kept an entire audience on the edge of their seats with a witty and wise performance. In his late years Breuning established The Film Factory with his lifelong companion, Judith. Here he taught children film history and the craftsmanship of film making, in his ongoing fight for every child’s right to watch and produce films.”


“Breuning was a connoisseur of all kinds of culture. He was fond of opera, an expert in Hemingway’s writing, a huge fan of westerns (especially those by John Ford), almost childishly preoccupied with Laurel & Hardy and the foremost advocate for comics. Should anyone be in the bewilderment to claim that Laurel & Hardy were a kids’ act, Breuning would know how to do them justice. Ulrich was a child at heart, always on the lookout for new comrades. To have known him is to have had a lifelong friend.”

ECFA sends its condolences to Ulrich Breuning’s family, especially to his son Jacob who is – when it comes to children’s films – partly walking in his father’s footsteps.