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? Denmark may be small in size, but it has produced some big directors and many much-loved films. Get to know Denmark’s famous film directors in this guide and fall in love with Denmark on screen.
Lars von Trier is as much known for his films as for his controversial statements. Among film critics he is often renowned for his distinct visual style and challenging storylines. Along with Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration), Von Trier was one of the founding members of the Dogme 95 movement, first and foremost known for promoting hand-held filming as a new visual style. His most famous movies include Dancer in The Dark (2000) for which he won a Palme d'Or, Antichrist (2009), Melancholia (2011) and Nymphomaniac (2013).
Thomas Vinterberg is a Danish film director. Vinterberg co-founded the Dogme 95 movement with Lars von Trier. His first internationally acknowledged film was The Celebration (1998). Filmed according to the Dogme 95 rules, The Celebration (Festen) film won 26 international film awards, including at the Cannes Film Festival and The European Film Awards. More recently Vinterberg directed the Oscar-nominated The Hunt (2010) starring Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who won Best Actor Award at Cannes for his performance in the film.
After directing a long list of films for the Scandinavian markets, Danish director Susanne Bier found international acclaim with After the Wedding (2006) starring Mads Mikkelsen and Sidse Babett Knudsen, followed by In A Better World (2010) starring Trine Dyrholm and Love Is All You Need (2012) starring Pierce Brosnan. In A Better World won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and the European Film Award for Best Director. Susanne Bier has also directed films such as Brothers (2004) and A second chance (2014) starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Nicolas Winding Refn began his career in Denmark with the Danish-language trilogy Pusher (1996-2005). In 2011 he directed Drive, starring Ryan Gosling, which won him Best Director Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and a whole host of other awards. Nicolas Winding Refn's latest film, Only God Forgives also starring Ryan Gosling, was shortlisted at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Bille August has directed a number internationally known 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. In 1987 Bille August won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Pelle the Conqueror, which also earned him the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival. (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) starring Jim Sturgess and The Riot Club (2014) set in and around Oxford University. (Image: Gordon Correll/Flickr)