With Sidste omgang (1993) (Last Round), his graduation short from The National Film School of Denmark, he got an early taste of critical success. He received the Jury’s and Producers’ Awards at the International Student Film Fest in Munich and won the 1st Prize at the Tel Aviv Film Fest. Popular success followed with his breakthrough short fiction film, Drengen der gik baglæns (1995), about a boy, who – after the death of his brother – discovers he can turn back time by walking backwards. This poetic short film was followed the reckless and fast-paced thriller, The Biggest Heroes (1996).
Vinterberg is one of the founding “brothers” of dogme95, a set of rules dedicated to reintroducing the element of risk in filmmaking. The Celebration (1998) was not only his first Dogme95 project it was also his first international success. With this movie he “penetrated a layer of evil and abomination [he’d] never been to before” (according to an interview by Bo Green Jensen for Weekend Avisen). The story revolves around Family patriarch Helge Klingenfeldt Hansen, celebrating his 60eth birthday. In a speech the eldest son addresses his father, supposedly to honor him, only to reveal the father’s darkest secret. Among other international prizes, Vinterberg received the Prix du Jury of the Cannes International Film Festival.
His feature, It’s All About Love (2003), is a departure from the dogme95 project. It is the story of John (Joaquin Phoenix) and Elena (Claire Danes), whose marriage has fallen apart. Their troubled relationship is reflected in their surroundings as Vinterberg attempts to create a parallel between the chaos of the world and the chaos inside the characters.
Back in his homeland, Thomas Vinterberg nevertheless sticks to the English language. His Dear Wendy (2005), written by Lars von Trier, is a fierce attack against America’s obsession with weapons. In 2007, Vinterberg returns to Danish with When a Man Comes Home (2007) whose subject (a singer comes home to the town he left behind) is appropriate to the circumstances. Vinterberg strikes hard with his next two works, Submarino (2010), the gloomy story of two brothers who try to cope with their depressing everyday lives and The Hunt (2012), the shocking tale of a man who falls prey to a madding crowd. It will surprise nobody that Thomas Vinterberg’s next project is a new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd (2014)’.
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