This year’s Academy Awards took place last Sunday, and we can’t help but feel proud of all the indie filmmakers who were honoured that night. Here at ÉCU, we want to shine a light on another filmmaker with a spotlight instalment on the Danish director, Thomas Vinterberg.
Vinterberg’s career started with the short film, LAST ROUND (1993) – a film he made after he graduated from the National Film School of Denmark. The film won the Jury Award at the Munich International Festival of Film Schools. Two years later, he released his first feature film, THE BIGGEST HEROES (1996). His other exceptional films include SUBMARINO (2010), which was nominated for a Golden Bear at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival, and THE HUNT (2012), which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 86th Academy Awards.
Despite all of his achievements, Vinterberg is most notable for a different kind of contribution to film – the Dogme 95 movement. Along with Lars von Trier, the Dogme 95 or The Vow of Chastity was created in 1995 as a manifesto encouraging filmmakers to forgo special effects and technology so that other elements such as story and acting were the main stars of films. Specific rules include filming on location without bringing in any props and only using a handheld camera to film. Interestingly, another rule was that directors are not allowed to receive credits. This was an effort to “purify” filmmaking and lessen the power that studios have on artists. Kristian Levring and Soren Kragh-Jacobsen later joined them, forming the Dogme 95 Collective or the Dogme Brethren. The first Dogme 95 film created was Vinterberg’s own THE CELEBRATION (1998). It won the Jury Prize at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
After the surge of DSLR cameras in the 2000s, making Dogme 95 films was a lot easier because sound and light quality can be more easily manipulated. However, this created a huge difference between Dogme films originally shot on Tape or DVD-R Camcorders. Vinterberg and von Trier realized that Dogme 95 was losing its true meaning and was becoming a genre formula. As such, von Trier announced the Dogme 95 movement over in 2005.
Although Vinterberg’s Dogme 95 days are over, he continues to create amazing and dazzling films.