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Streaming January 14-26, 2022 Digital Screening Room

Norway | 53 minutes | 2021

Little Axel

US Premiere

The story of Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen has been recounted numerous times-- in books, films, and the press. Theirs was a romance that would inspire Leonard to write some of his most moving poetry, wisdom, and songs. It all began when Leonard first set foot on a rocky, carefree island off the coast of Greece as an unknown author who had never even sung in public. For Leonard and Marianne, then 26 & 25 respectively, the stars aligned at this bohemian playground, and they fell deeply in love. Ihlen, often called Cohen’s muse, was the inspiration for some of his greatest songs, among them “So Long, Marianne,” “Like a Bird on a Wire” and “That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” Their romance also encompassed a third person: Marianne was not alone when she met Cohen; she came with her infant son, Axel Joachim Jensen, Jr., the offspring of her marriage to the Norwegian writer, Axel Jensen, who had abandoned them after the boy’s birth. Leonard Cohen soon became, for all intents and purposes, the boy’s adoptive father, and the bond between them continued even after Cohen became an international superstar and separate from Marianne at the end of the 1960s. Little Axel for the first time tells this story through exclusive archive material and Axel’s own words, while shining a light on his own struggle with mental illness throughout his adult life.

Director's Bio

Directed by Fabien Greenberg, Bård Kjøge Rønning

Director Photo
Fabien Greenberg is an award-winning French-British director and photographer who has had his work shown in the Cinefondation program at the Cannes Film Festival. Bård Kjøge Rønning is an award-winning Norwegian writer and filmmaker with a master’s degree in religious history from the University of Oslo.

Cast and Credits


Fabien Greenberg, Bård Kjøge Rønning


Fabien Greenberg, Bård Kjøge Rønning


Fabien Greenberg


Fabien Greenberg, Bård Kjøge Rønning


Leonard Cohen, Axel Joachim Jensen, Nick Broomfield

Film Info






53 minutes


English and Norwegian with English subtitles
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