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THE CELEBRATION

Denmark, 1998 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Thomas Vinterberg

As the celebrants arrive for the 60th birthday of patriarch Helge, it quickly becomes apparent that his three children manifest any number of resentments and inner turmoils. Christian, a restaurateur based in France, is still suffering from the recent suicide of his twin sister, a pain he shares with his hedonistic sister, Helene. Their younger brother, Michael, harbours lingering resentment after being shut out of important family matters by his older siblings. The stakes are raised during the birthday banquet when, instead of saying a few words for his deceased sister, Christian stands up and exposes a shocking family secret.

Vinterberg's The Celebration emerges out of the new Danish cinema manifesto, DOGMA 95, first signed in March 1995 by Vinterberg and Lars von Trier, and later joined by other filmmakers. The Celebration is indicative of the manifesto's reaction to the falsity of illusion in cinema, instead filming on location with no artificial sets, props or lighting, no optical effects and no superficial or contrived action. The same hand-held realism which has signified films such as von Trier's Breaking the Waves is equally evident in The Celebration. Vinterberg describes the manifesto, and his latest film, as a "rescue operation to counter certain tendencies in film today... desiring to purge film so that once again the inner lives of the characters justifies the plot". A film that elicited a tremendous audience response when it screened in competition at Cannes this year.

"People who have seen the film have reacted... with a deep, deep silence and darkness. They have totally entrenched themselves by the time the credits appear." - Thomas Vinterberg

Thomas Vinterburg was born in 1968 in Copenhagen. His previous films include Last Round (1993), The Boy Who Walked Backwards (1994) and Heroes (1996).

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