Director: Thomas Vinterberg

Denmark| 1998. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 106 minutes.

Together with Lars von Trier’s The Idiots (also showing in this programme), Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen was the first of the Danish Dogma films to make a big impact. The film is a relentless, unforgiving portrait of a family which gathers to celebrate the 60th birthday of its patriarch. As various guests assemble at the family’s great house in the country, the father summons his eldest son and asks him to say a few words about his recently deceased sister. Instead of homilies, the young man delivers a stream of invective that’s designed to expose and exorcise some painful family secrets of abuse and suffering. Vinterberg’s nervous style (the entire film was shot with a tiny, hand-held video camera) is both faithful to the no-frills, back-to-basics tenets of Dogma and perfectly suited to his explosive subject matter.

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