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1-World Festival of Foreign Films
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Lars von Trier

Occupation: Director
Also: Screenwriter

Born: April 30, 1956, Copenhagen, Denmark

Birth Name: Lars Trier

Education: Danish Film School (1979-1983)

Lars von Trier was raised by nudist Jewish Communist parents who did not allow much room in their household for "feelings, religion, or enjoyment," as von Trier later said. The young Lars found in cinema an outlet to the outside world through which he could learn about subjects otherwise forbidden from his study by his parents. He began making his own films at the age of 11 after receiving a Super-8 camera as a gift and continued to be involved in independent moviemaking throughout his high school years.

In 1979 he was enrolled in the Danish Film School. During his time as a student at the school he made the films, Nocture (1980) and Image of Liberation (1982) that both won Best Film awards at the Munich Film Festival, along with The Last Detail (1981). His peers at the film school nicknamed him "von Trier." The name is sort of an inside-joke with the von part suggesting nobility, while Lars and Trier are quite common names in Denmark. He reportedly kept the "von" name in homage to Erich von Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg. He graduated from the film school in 1983.

After his graduation he began work on the Europe trilogy, which started with The Element of Crime (1984). The film was a technical accomplishment and won a technical award at the Cannes Film Festival. This film was followed by Epidemic (1987) that was also shown as part of the official program at Cannes. For television, von Trier directed Medea (1988) which won the Jean d'Arcy prize in France. He then finished the Europe trilogy in 1991 with Europa (US title, Zentropa), which won the Prix du Jury at Cannes Film Festival and picked up awards at other major festivals.

In 1992 he co-founded together with Peter Aalbæk Jensen the movie production company Zentropa, which was named after his latest movie. The reason for doing this was to achieve financial independence and to have total creative control.

In order to make money for his newly founded company, he made The Kingdom (1994) and The Kingdom II (1997), a pair of miniseries recorded in the Danish national hospital, the name "Riget" being a slang term for the hospital which is called "Rigshospitalet" (lit. The Kingdom's Hospital) in Danish. A projected third installment in the series has been derailed due to the death of Ernst-Hugo Järegård, who played Helmer, one of the major characters. A thirteen-episode American television series, based on The Kingdom, was written by Stephen King, under the title Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital, which was broadcast in 2004, to poor critical reception.

His mother revealed on her deathbed in 1995 that the man he thought was his father was not. After an initial meeting with his real father, his real father has refused to speak to him. After these revelations von Trier rebelled against his past and converted to Catholicism.

Breaking the Waves (1996) won the Grand Prix at Cannes. The film featured Emily Watson, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Lars von Trier overcame his dislike of traveling to present the second Dogme film, The Idiots (1998), in person at the Cannes Film Festival. As instructor and originator of the Dogme95 concept, which led to international interest in Danish film as a whole, he has inspired filmmakers all over the world.

In 2000, von Trier premiered a musical featuring the renowned Icelandic musician Björk, Dancer in the Dark. The film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes.

He has completed Manderlay (2005), the second film in his USA trilogy. The first film in that trilogy, Dogville, starred Nicole Kidman, and met with mixed critical reaction. Some viewers considered the film bold and powerful, while others found it pretentious and affected.

His next project will be a Danish Dogme film The Boss of it All, which is going to be a comedy. This movie is scheduled to be released in 2007. The last part of the USA-trilogy titled Wasington is now planned to be produced after that film.

Filmography

  • The Orchid Gardener / Orchidégartneren (1977)
  • Menthe - la bienheureuse (1979)
  • Nocturne (1980)
  • The Last Detail / Den sidste detalje (1981)
  • Image of relief / Befrielsesbilleder (1982)
  • The Element of Crime / Forbrydelsens element (1984)
  • Epidemic (1987)
  • Medea (TV movie, 1988)
  • Zentropa / Europa (1991)
  • The Kingdom / Riget (TV miniseries, 1994)
  • Breaking the Waves (1996)
  • The Kingdom II / Riget II (TV miniseries, 1997)
  • The Idiots / Idioterne (1998)
  • D-Dag - Lise (TV movie, 2000)
  • Dancer in the Dark (2000)
  • Dogville (2003, part one of von Trier's "USA" trilogy)
  • The Five Obstructions / De Fem benspænd (2003; co-directed with Jørgen Leth)
  • Dear Wendy (2004, screenwriter; directed by Thomas Vinterberg)
  • Manderlay (2005, part two of the "USA" trilogy)
  • The Boss of It All / Direktøren for det hele (2007)
  • Wasington (in production, part three of the "USA" trilogy)



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