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“People are scared”

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Thomas Vinterberg • Director

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- The Danish film director is back in the competition at the Cannes Film Festival with The Hunt, a film exploring the loss of innocence.

Thomas Vinterberg • Director

With The Hunt [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Thomas Vinterberg
interview: Thomas Vinterberg
film profile
]
, Thomas Vinterberg is back in the competition at the Cannes Film Festival, where he recently screened his film to the international press.

From where did the impulse come to finally address these very real elements that you have been holding on to for 10 years?
When we finished Submarino [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Thomas Vinterberg
film profile
]
, my fellow screenwriter, Tobias Lindholm, and I wanted to work together again. We both like real elements. Our love for reality is very tangible. I talked about these cases again with Tobias who had just had a baby and he was immediately moved. We especially wanted to tell the story of an innocent man who was the victim of a new form of witch hunt, that was very contemporary and very real.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Isn't it dangerous to doubt what children say after seeing the film?
One just has to know that children can lie. In Denmark, we have this saying that drunk people and children always say the truth, but it’s completely wrong. Often, children lie to make adults happy. In this precise case, they still become victims because of the heavy process that follows with all the psychologists, gynecologists, court cases, and collateral damage that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.

As in Festen (international title: The Celebration), The Hunt is about losing one’s innocence...
In The Hunt, you have a group of adults having fun and behaving any old how, like children. We imagine that children are pure, or at least that’s what we used to imagine. Today, things have changed. People are scared and even adults have lost their own innocence. I came to Cannes in 1998 to say this, and today I am returning to say the opposite, and I’m afraid that the truth is somewhere between these two extremes.

Do you consider the film’s ending to be a happy one?
Almost. We are not used to happy endings in Denmark. It’s a dark, sinister country.[Laughs] What is important is that, in the end, no one betrays anyone else in the film. Each character can be defended, and we made sure that we worked on each individual motivation to ensure that it was understood and justified in the screenplay. It’s what makes the situation difficult, and one cannot emerge completely intact when everybody in some way had reason to act like they did.

Do you really think that Denmark is the sinister country that you depict in your films?
I love my country. I intend to stay there and I am very proud of the Danish film industry, which is very strong, but I also belong to a tradition of dark tales not only from Denmark, but from the whole of Scandinavia. Danish people are usually happy, but I’m attracted by the dark tales, even if they only represent a part of my society.

Tell us about you career path between your two visits to Cannes...
I have always been here. I never left. You left, but I have always been very proud of what I did during this period. There were some difficulties along the way because Festen was the end of something. I had made the ultimate film in one direction, ending up in Cannes, and then I took another direction that brought me back here today. I have returned to a form of filmmaking that is more what I wanted to do when I was studying, before Dogma.

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