Thomas Vinterberg, Danish director, scriptwriter and producer, will be this year’s President of the jury for A Certain Regard, the second most important category in the Cannes Film Festival. Experimental movies from newcomers are screened in this section.
The Festival’s 66th edition begins on May 15 with Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, being touted in India as Amitabh Bachchan’s first ever Hollywood film.
Vinterberg was born in Copenhagen in May 1969, and graduated from the National Film School of Denmark in 1993. He was the youngest student there.
His first short movies, Last Round (1993) and The Boy Who Walked Backwards
(1995), won awards at several festivals.
The year 1995 was a turning point for him: he joined hands with Lars Von Trier and other artists to create Dogme95, a movement which aimed to take cinema back to austerity. This meant no artificial props, no painted faces and so on.
In 1998, Vinterberg’s first feature film, The Celebration, won the Jury Prize at Cannes, an honour which placed him on a glorious pedestal.
A year later, he went back to Cannes to chair the Short Film Jury.
Last, year at Cannes, Vinterberg presented The Hunt – which was sensational and got its hero, Mads Mikkelsen, the Best Actor Award
I loved that movie. In a review I wrote for the Hindustan Times, I said: “The third film at Cannes that was as engaging was Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt. It was a delightful mix of comedy and tragedy where a happy family reunion is blown away by the revelation of childhood sexual abuse. The air is vitiated and the pretence of joy disappears.
“In what is considered as the Danish director’s most gripping movie after The Celebration, The Hunt takes us back – again -- to paedophilia. Only that this time, the man, a kindergarten school teacher, has been wrongly accused. Propelled by Mikkelsen’s hauntingly restrained acting, the film impacts you with not a single false note. Narrating what is the core point – the way gossip and children’s imagination can prove horribly ruinous -- The Hunt underlines the fragility of trust even between two best friends.
Lucas (Mikkelsen) is a respected member of a small deer-hunting community who is trying to salvage his life after a messy divorce and job loss when a little girl (daughter of his best friend), provoked by an internet image, says that the man exposed himself. This starts the movie’s nightmarish chain of events, and though the innocent Lucas is exonerated in the end, the last frame reveals how some accusations stick. Stories of witch hunt and child sexual abuse are common, have been presented on the screen for years. Yet, The Hunt shocks us, particularly because of the way the community is blinded by hearsay and gossip”.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran will be covering the Cannes Film Festival this year.)