The first spawning of the Dogme 95 movement started by Danish filmmakers Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg as a reaction against the trend for massive budgets, star names and expansive expensive special effects.
The first spawning of the Dogme 95 movement started by Danish filmmakers Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg as a reaction against the trend for massive budgets, star names and expansive expensive special effects. Their vision was of a pared down, back to basics cinema where storytelling is paramount out of necessity and where the actors alone carry the force of the drama. And Festen has a great deal of force behind it’s words…
The strong storyline begins around the family celebration of the patriarchal Helge’s 60th birthday. From the word go, the camera brings us right onto the heart of the noisy throng, inviting us into their world as prurient observers. Alas, this family, like so many others has skeletons in it’s collective cupboards which the eldest son Christian decided to disseminate during his after dinner speech in an intense and eye riveting scene. Christian announces that he and his sister had been sexually abused by Helge when they were young, a fact which drove his twin to commit suicide. The party guests are left with their world shattered, some unable to believe that Christian is telling the truth.
More secrets start to emerge and it seems like no one in the family will; end up coming out well. Themes of repression, alcohol and substance abuse and above all social convention, how pervasive they are, how accustomed we are to using them to deal with difficult situations and how confining and ultimately destructive their rules can be. It’s a film that questions and makes the viewer question, a revealing social documentary and a tense character drama in one. The director, Vinterberg, isn’t afraid to use stunned silence as well, underlining and making all more powerful the moments of screamed hysteria and showing a true confidence in his art.
The stripped down shooting style, no lights no filters, no special sound equipment gives the movie a biting realism, everything is on display here, everything is for real. The actors have clearly been energized by this type of moviemaking and all rise to the challenge portraying powerful and difficult emotions with sincerity. Festen is beautiful, powerful, challenging and involving, one to see at all costs and proves that it is story foremost rather than budget which drives a successful movie.
Awards: Canberra Short Film Festival,European Film Awards,Gijón International Film Festival,Guldbagge Awards,Independent Spirit Awards,Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards,Lübeck Nordic Film Days,New York Film Critics Circle Awards,Norwegian International Film Festival,Rotterdam International Film Festival,São Paulo International Film Festival,Bodil Awards,Robert Festival,Amanda Awards,Cannes Film Festival
Nominations: Satellite Awards,BAFTA Awards,British Independent Film Awards,Cannes Film Festival,Amanda Awards,European Film Awards,César Awards,Golden Globes,Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards,Camerimage,Chicago Film Critics Association Awards,Cinema Brazil Grand Prize,Csapnivalo Awards,Gijón International Film Festival,Online Film Critics Society Awards