One of the best known European auteurs, Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg, will be at the upcoming Berlin International Film Festival with his latest, The Commune.
Vinterberg was at Berlin in 2010 with his drama, Submarino, based on a 2007 novel by Jonas T Bengtsson that focusses on the violence and drug addiction in Danish society seen through the lives of two brothers.
The Commune is inspired by Vinterberg’s own experiences at a Nordkrog commune, north of Copenhagen, where he lived with his parents between 1976 and 1985.
Vinterberg first co-wrote a play about the commune along with Danish screenwriter and film-school professor Mogens Rukov, who died late last year. The play was staged at the Burgtheater in Vienna, and then adapted for the screen. This script was penned by Vinterberg and Danish director Tobias Lindholm.
The movie, The Commune, reunites Vinterberg with Danish actors Ulrich Thomsen and Trine Dyrholm, who performed in the director’s first two films, including The Celebration which clinched a Jury Prize at Cannes in 1998. The work was a delightful mix of comedy and tragedy where a happy family reunion is blown away by the revelation of childhood sexual abuse. The air is vitiated and the pretence of joy disappears.
The Celebration was made according to Dogma 95, a method that Vinterberg and other European helmers, like Lars Von Trier, adopted to take cinema back to its roots. Which meant no props, no artificial lighting and no make-up. Dogma 95 did not quite work.
Vinterberg’s last title at Cannes, The Hunt, was in 2012. Considered as the Danish director’s most gripping film after The Celebration, The Hunt takes us to the question of paedophilia, where a man, a kindergarten school teacher, is wrongly accused. Propelled by Mads Mikkelsen’s hauntingly restrained acting, the movie impacts you with not a single false note.
Narrating what is the core point - the way gossip and children’s imagination can prove horribly ruinous -The Hunt underlines the fragility of trust even between two best friends.
Last year, Vinterberg made Far from the Madding Crowd, a novel which Thomas Hardy wrote in 1874, but the celluloid work did not quite impress a world that had seen so many, many versions of the story, set in Victorian England of the 1870s about Bathsheba Everdine and her lovers.