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Thomas Vinterberg and Berlinale Talents
by Becky Tan

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg spoke to ambitious,  young filmmakers at the Berlinale Talents. For six days, invited students from  78 countries met to learn and network. This section, originally called  Berlinale Talent Campus, was established in 2002 as an opportunity for striving  young filmmakers to attend 35 workshops and master classes in directing,  producing, acting, screenwriting, cinematography, editing, and much more. The  300 attendees were selected from 2648 applicants. Four alumni from former  Berlinale Talents proudly showed their newest films.

Some of the discussions were open to the general  Berlinale public. In this venue many of us could hear Thomas Vinterberg give  advice to the next generation in a discussion entitled “The Director must not  be Credited.” Vinterberg is known for such films as The Celebration (1998), The  Hunt (2012) and Far from the Madding  Crowd (2014). He is a founding member of Dogma 95, at that time a new direction  in Danish filmmaking. His newest film, The  Commune, showed in competition at the Berlinale (see  review page…). He is relatively young (born 1969) and very good-looking;  he could easily play a leading role in any film. 

Vinterberg began by explaining some of the  Ten Commandments of Dogma 95. It “tried to  avert holding actors’ hands from A to B.” There should be no makeup, no music  and only natural light. None of the participants pre-read their scripts,  filming was in real time and the director would not be credited (the title of  his discussion). Interestingly Vinterberg no longer holds to Dogma 95, as seen  in The Commune. He said Dogma 95 was  supposed to be new and revolutionary and after 20 years it was mainstream, no  longer “new,” which defeated the purpose.   As soon as everyone was following these guidelines it “was the beginning  of the end of Dogma 95.”

He discussed using a hand camera and the difficulties  of adding sound, also how to re-do a scene during filming, which can lead to  multiple repeats of just a few minutes. Actors need “frames” or directions in a  certain segment, which they can expand according to their own interpretation.  He listens to the actors’ input and then sets the limitations. Usually, there  are two weeks of rehearsals. The “more solid the foundation, the more you can  let go.” He recommends testing a film idea on the stage, which he did at the  Vienna Burg Theater with The Celebration.  Contrary to film, a theater performance disappears when the curtain goes down  and starts anew the next night.

Berlinale Talents generously allows us to see this  90-minute discussion in English on Click “Watch Live  Recordings” and scroll down to “The Director must not be Credited.”