AN ‘inspiring’ film which shines a light on why Denmark is one of the happiest nations on earth is set to shown across Scotland in the new year.

Denmark: The State of Happiness has been produced by journalist Lesley Riddoch and filmmaker Charlie Stuart and aims to inspire Scots to think differently about how a small country can be run.

It is the latest in a series of films Riddoch has already presented on Estonia, Norway, Iceland and the Faroes.

Despite how Denmark is a small nation, the GDP per capita is almost a third higher than in Britain, it has one of the world’s best energy systems and more than half the population of its capital city of Copenhagen travel to work on bikes.

These are just some of the things the film gives an insight into, as well as a “mindblowing” education system which allows children to explore who they are beyond the pressures of achieving grades and following core academic subjects.

READ MORE: Denmark has the solution to Scotland's heating problems

Denmark has often been referenced as being a nation an independent Scotland should aspire to in white papers produced by the Scottish Government.

But Riddoch said she hopes the film will illustrate exactly why the caring, humane approach of the Danes is something which could and should exist in Scotland.

She told The National: “Each of these films is trying to colour in what is essentially just a slogan or a headline people use.

“I’m not suggesting any of these countries are attainable, we’re different from every country and they are different from each other, but the outlooks and values we have absolutely chime.

“The hope is people after it will feel sad, because that [life in Denmark] should be Scotland.

“There’s no reason the level of prosperity and confidence these guys have got shouldn’t be Scotland’s, but there are reasons. We’re not an independent country and we’ve struggled with feudalism.

“This is not trying to ram independence down anyone’s throat, it’s just saying ‘here’s another country that’s got far fewer resources than Scotland, here’s what they’ve done, go figure’.

"Other ways of running a small country are available and they are right over there."

The film includes interviews with dozens of Danes, many of whom have visited Scotland as speakers with Nordic Horizons – the policy group set up by Riddoch with Labour Party member Dan Wynn 13 years ago.

It looks at how transport infrastructure has been set up in Copenhagen to allow people to feel safe travelling on bikes, how a third of the city’s homes being cooperatively-owned has helped cap prices, how district heating helps to keep prices relatively low and how energy comes from incinerating local rubbish, with the only emissions in the city being water vapour.

Riddoch also brings viewers an insight into Denmark’s education approach, including how kindergarten encourages children to explore cooperation and the great outdoors, while 15-year-olds are given the chance to go away from home for a year to an efterskole to study subjects or activities beyond those regularly taught in schools.

READ MORE: Scotland's ski season to begin amid funicular railway delays

Riddoch said: “The schools are mindblowing.

“At 15 they try and break up the pressure that’s developing to conform, to just try to figure out what’s going to get you the best job and just blindly follow that. It’s breathtaking.

“I couldn’t believe such a benign, rational approach to living still existed. It’s actually very emotional. You don’t realise how we’ve been boiled like frogs here to expect nothing, even in Scotland where there is some mitigation of the nastiest stuff from Westminster, but the whole system is a mirror image really.

“There’s got to be a moment where politicians are strong enough to stand up to the British templates that unwittingly exist in almost all our thinking. The only way you’re going to transform a lot of things is to start aligning with Europe, not England.”

The film was made on a budget of just £10,000 and has been funded by the Scottish Independence Foundation and individual independence supporters.  

It is set to tour cinemas from January 12 in the likes of Dundee, Balloch, Dumfries, Aberfeldy, Oban, Edinburgh and Glasgow and more.

Riddoch also hopes it can at some point be shown to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament to inspire fresh thinking on policy.

“The purpose of doing these films is definitely to enlighten the general public but these are very specific proposals that are embedded in the film, so my hope is that the there is a screening in the Scottish Parliament that MSPs attend,” she said.

Green MP Caroline Lucas said progressives in Scotland would “do well” to learn from the film.

She said: “This is a truly inspiring film, showing the power of a good example.

“Denmark has become one of the world’s happiest and most sustainable countries on Earth not by chance, but by investing in public services, developing a vast active transport network, providing high-quality and affordable housing, and cleaning up its waterways.

“Progressives in Scotland, and indeed across the UK, would do well to learn from a radical blueprint with fairness at its heart.”

Author Val McDermid described it as a “tantalising glimpse” of what an independent Scotland could look like, while Independence Minister Jamie Hepburn described it as a “fascinating and entertaining insight into the modern social democratic society that Danish people enjoy”.

The list of screenings in 2024 (each followed by an in person Q&A session with Lesley) - can be found HERE.