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Little Axel

The little boy raised by Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian lover Marianne is now a big man, and life hasn't been a walk in the park for him - from Raindance

Having been in production since 2020, Bård Kjøge Rønning and Fabien Greenberg’s raw and honest documentary, Little Axel, will finally be making its premiere at the 2022 Raindance Film Festival. Halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 50-minute film is now being shared with the world, ready to tell the story of Axel Joachim Jensen, Jr.

The son of the late Marianne Ihlen, Axel was also raised by Canadian poet and singer/songwriter, Leonard Cohen. Little Axel puts the now 62-year-old front and centre, shedding light on his life, upbringing and struggles. The 35mm archive footage combined with grainy childhood photos play a huge role in making this documentary feel like a well-informed love letter – to Axel, his Mother, Leonard, and anyone who is eager to listen. Accompanied by numerous cameos of family friends – Nick Broomfield, Mette Jacobsen, and Don Lowe – they directly address and reminisce on their memories with Axel when he was a young boy.

Axel Joachim Jensen, Jr. currently resides in Oslo, Norway and has been taking antipsychotic medication for 40 years. In the documentary, Axel boldly discusses his traumatic experiences in life, his struggle with mental illnesses, and explains how it can be ‘difficult to remember things you just want to forget”. Speaking on his upbringing in a family with fame and being sent to a boarding school, Axel delicately expresses that he has had “quite a strange life”.

This brave, courageous documentary is emotional and enchanting. Informative and insightful, Axel is a clear narrator, and it is an honour to be able to spectate as he unravels and relives the story of his childhood. The relationship between Axel and the film’s directors, Bård Kjøge Rønning and Fabien Greenberg, is magnificent – just another element of the delicacy within this documentary. It is clear to see the care and attentiveness between everybody involved in the making of Little Axel, and it is undoubtedly a must-see for 2022.

Little Axel shows at the 30th edition of the Raindance Film Festival.


By Laney Gibbons - 23-10-2022

Laney is London-based Film Studies graduate who is an advocate for diversity and representation within film. Having studied various different elements and genres of film, as well as films from differe...

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