Denmark, Sweden


A woman jeopardises both her career and her family when she seduces her teen-aged stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences.

Director's Statement

QUEEN OF HEARTS is the story of a tragic fall from grace.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life. I’ve made bad decisions, faltered when it mattered, and shown poor judgement over and over again.

Some of the missteps can be overlooked and boxed away. Some have had painful consequences for others, and myself, and the ensuing shame and guilt of harming others has created a burden I have to carry: A burden which continues to shape me for better and for worse.

That’s how it is for most people: our flaws and insufficiencies define us. They help us grow if we have the capacity to admit our errors, but if we are not capable of doing so they can taint and shatter us, and eventually create great inner loneliness.

In QUEEN OF HEARTS, a powerful woman makes a series of irreversible decisions that have unimaginable consequences for her and the people she holds dear. The film explores how far we are willing to go, once those choices are made, to protect ourselves and maintain the status quo in our existence.

Power is a strong overall theme. The power structures of families often convey truths about power structures in general; the apparent yet often invisible power hierarchy in families fascinates me because it is seldom spoken about, yet lived almost by primal instinct.

With this story, I want to explore the sense of entitlement that comes with being in power and what can happen when we do not take the responsibility that comes with authority seriously, whether it is in our private or professional lives.

We have a tendency in the world of fiction to tell stories about the idea that there is something good in the evil, but we seldom tell stories about the evil in the good, even though it also contains eternal truths about human behaviour. It’s my ambition to address this schism and at the same time aim towards telling a story where spectators are confronted with their own beliefs and are encouraged to take a stand as the story plays out.

To enhance this vision, I choose to block many of the scenes of the film somewhat democratically – in one-takes and in two-shots, in opposition to consistently maneuvering the audience by cutting to close-ups to underline dramatic significance or change of emotional state.

Even though there is an obvious primary main character dramaturgically, it was important for me to leave space visually for the spectators to shape their own opinions in regard to the characters' actions. By doing so, I hope to empower the story to force questions not necessarily provide answers.

Director's Biography

Born in 1977, May el-Toukhy was brought up in a suburb of Copenhagen by her Danish mother and Egyptian father. She has a background in theatre, and graduated from The Danish National School of Performing Arts in 2002, before she moved on to film and graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 2009. Her first feature film and national breakthrough LONG STORY SHORT was a success among both the audience and critics, and won her, her writer and members of the cast several awards. The film was made in collaboration with producer Caroline Blanco and author Maren Louise Käehne that she has known since film school, apart from Trine Dyrholm who also starred in the film, and the four decided to continue the vibrant coalition on QUEEN OF HEARTS. Apart from doing feature films, May has also been working in theatre, directed radio-plays and episodes of the award-winning TV series THE LEGACY and RIDE UPON THE STORM at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation DR.
QUEEN OF HEARTS is her second feature film.

2017 - RIDE UPON THE STORM, tv series
2016 - THE LEGACY, tv series

Cast & Crew

Directed by: May el-Touhky

Written by: Maren Louise Käehne, May el-Touhky

Produced by: Caroline Blanco, René Ezra

Cinematography: Jaspar J. Spanning

Editing: Rasmus Stensgaard Madsen

Production Design: Mia Stensgaard

Costume Design: Rebecca Richmond

Make-Up & Hair: Anne Cathrine Sauberg

Original Score: Jon Ekstrand

Sound: Oskar Skriver

Cast: Trine Dyrholm (Anne), Gustav Lindh (Gustav), Magnus Krepper (Peter)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actress 2019
  • Feature Film Selection 2019