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Wachtel On The Arts - Thomas Vinterberg

With films such as "The Celebration " and "The Hunt", Danish director Thomas Vinterberg is interested in exploring themes of family and community- with a particularly Scandinavian twist. Vinterberg talks to Eleanor Wachtel about growing up in a commune in Copenhagen, how it inspired him to become a filmmaker, and about his touching new film, "The Commune."
Thomas Vinterberg (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

With films such as The Celebration and The Hunt, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg is interested in exploring themes of family and community - with a particularly Scandinavian twist. Vinterberg talks to Eleanor Wachtel during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival about growing up in a commune in Copenhagen, how it inspired him to become a filmmaker, and about his touching new film, The Commune.


Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg burst onto the international scene in 1998 with his film The Celebration. It was an unflinching look at the dynamics of an upper class Danish family that is rocked by revelations of sexual abuse at the patriarch's 60th birthday party.

When The Celebration won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Vinterberg said its success was like a hand grenade exploding in his face. 

He was only twenty-nine at the time. But he was no stranger to success. Ten years earlier, he'd been the youngest student ever admitted to the National Film School of Denmark.  And his first student film -- a  short -- won an International Award.

The Celebration wasn't just a critical hit.  It was also the first Dogme film. Dogme was a movement that Vinterberg co-founded in 1995 with Lars Von Trier and other Danish filmmakers.  It rejected any kind of ornamentation in cinema. That included props, artificial lighting, and any sound or music not already on the set. And it insisted everything be shot in real time.

However, Dogme didn't last long for Vinterberg, who has a horror of repeating himself. The Celebration, while a huge success, was also his only Dogme film.

Thomas Vinterberg's next big hit was The Hunt. It stars Mads Mikkelsen as a kindergarten assistant who's falsely accused of sexually abusing the children. It's a portrait of a society gripped by fear and mass hysteria as Lucas becomes a hunted animal. The Hunt won numerous awards, including best actor for Mikkelsen at Cannes.

Now, Thomas Vinterberg has a new movie, called The Commune.  It's inspired by his own experience of growing up in a commune in Copenhagen in the 1970s and '80s. It's also an affectionate portrayal of a generation who gradually let go of their ideals as they're confronted with reality.

Thomas Vinterberg was in Toronto to talk about The Commune when it played at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. 


Web Extra | Watch the trailer for The Commune

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