Thomas Vinterberg (b. 1969)

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg is best known for his domestic and international breakthrough with the first ‘Dogme 95’ film, Festen (The Celebration, 1998). Later films include Submarino (2018) and Jagten (The Hunt, 2012).

Danish film director Thomas Vinterberg at the 2010 Berlinale. Photo: Siebbi (CC BY 3.0)

The Danish film director Thomas Vinterberg was born in Copenhagen in 1969 and trained at the Danish Film Academy. With Lars von Trier he wrote the ‘Dogme 95 manifesto’.

Before producing the first ‘Dogme’ film, Vinterberg shot his first feature, De største helte (The Biggest Heroes, 1996), a humorous story about two male criminals on the run in Sweden, accompanied by a teenage girl.

His ‘Dogme’ film Festen (The Celebration, 1998), marked the international breakthrough of both Vinterberg and the ‘Dogme’ rules and movement. On New Year’s Eve 2000, Vinterberg and the other ‘Dogme brethren’ (Lars von Trier, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen and Kristian Levring) made a live television experiment, D-Day, which combined four narratives and four channels and enabled the viewer to construct their own story by using the remote control.

Vinterberg’s Hollywood production It’s All About Love (2003), his film Dear Wendy (2005) with a script by von Trier, and When a Man Comes Home (2007) were minor successes. Submarino (2010), on the consequences of a lack of empathy, was widely praised, and Jagten (The Hunt, 2012), which traces the ostracism of a male nursery teacher falsely accused of sexual abuse, has won international acclaim. His film Kollektivet (The Commune, 2016) follows the break-up of a family joining a commune in 1970s Denmark and is partly based on his own recollection. He was commissioned director of Kursk (2018), which follows the authentic dramatic events when, during the Cold War, the Russian government turned down international help to rescue officers from a sunken U-boat.   

Thomas Vinterberg has also produced music videos for the bands Metallica and Blur, and he has directed his own play, Das Begräbnis (2010) (The Burial).  

Further reading:

  • C. C. Thomson, Thomas Vinterberg’s FESTEN (The Celebration). (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013).
  • Det Danske Filminstitut [The Danish Film Institute], Thomas Vinterberg