You’ve probably heard of Lars von Trier, the controversial director of films like Melancholia and Antichrist. But what about other Danish film directors, like Oscar-winning Susanne Bier? Or Nicolas Winding Refn, who directed Ryan Gosling in Drive? For a small country, Denmark has produced some big directors and many much-loved films. Get to know Denmark’s famous film directors here and fall in love with Denmark on screen!
Lars von Trier is one of the world’s most controversial famous directors. He and fellow director Thomas Vinterberg co-wrote the ground-breaking Dogme 95 Manifesto, which produced a wave of ultra-realistic Danish films, such as The Celebration. Lars von Trier won the Palme d’Or for Dancer in the Dark (2000), starring Bjork. Other famous Lars von Trier films include Nymphomaniac (2013), Melancholia (2011) and Antichrist (2009).
Thomas Vinterberg co-founded the avant-garde Dogme 95 Movement with Lars von Trier in 1995. His breakthrough film was The Celebration (1998), filmed according to the Dogme 95 rules. The Celebration (Festen) won 26 international film awards. Thomas Vinterberg also directed the Oscar-nominated Danish film The Hunt (2010), starring Mads Mikkelsen. Mads Mikkelsen won Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in The Hunt.
Susanne Bier won international acclaim with After the Wedding (2006), starring Mads Mikkelsen and Sidse Babett Knudsen. In a Better World (2010) won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director at the European Film Awards. Other Susanne Bier films include Brothers (2004) which spawned a Hollywood remake, Love Is All You Need (2012) starring Pierce Brosnan and A Second Chance (2014) starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Nicolas Winding Refn rose to fame in Denmark with his Danish-language trilogy, Pusher (1996-2005). In 2011, Nicolas Winding Refn directed Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, which won him Best Director Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Only God Forgives, another international film by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gosling, competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.
Bille August has directed a number of big international films, including Les Misérables (1998)starring Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman and Claire Danes, and The House of the Spirits (1993) starring Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas and Jeremy Irons. Bille August won an Oscar in 1987, for Pelle the Conqueror, which also won the Palme d’Or. (Image: Thore Siebrands/Flickr)
Lone Scherfig is another great Dane who was originally involved in the Dogme 95 movement. Her breakthrough Dogme film was Italian for Beginners (Italiensk for begyndere, 2000). Lone Scherfig's film An Education, starring Carey Mulligan, was nominated for an Oscar. Other well-known Lone Scherfig films include One Day (2011) and The Riot Club (2014). (Image: Gordon Correll/Flickr)