Dogme 95

Dogme 95 was a filmmaking movement started in 1995 by the Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, who created the "Dogme 95 Manifesto" and the "Vows of Chastity" (Danish: kyskhedsløfter). These were rules to create filmmaking based on the traditional values of story, acting, and theme, and excluding the use of elaborate special effects or technology. It was an attempt to take back power for the director as artist, as opposed to the studio.[1] They were later joined by fellow Danish directors Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, forming the Dogme 95 Collective or the Dogme Brethren. Dogme (pronounced [ˈdɒwmə]) is the Danish word for dogma.

Dogme 95
Years active1995–2005
CountryInternational, started in Denmark
Major figuresLars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, Jean-Marc Barr, Harmony Korine
InfluencesRealism, French New Wave
InfluencedMumblecore, New Puritans


Dogme certifikate for Susanne Bier's "Elsker dig for evigt" (Open Hearts, 2001), Dogme No. 28.

Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg wrote and co-signed the manifesto and its companion "vows". Vinterberg said that they wrote the pieces in 45 minutes.[2] The manifesto initially mimics the wording of François Truffaut's 1954 essay "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" in Cahiers du cinéma.

They announced the Dogme movement on March 13, 1995 in Paris, at Le cinéma vers son deuxième siècle conference. The cinema world had gathered to celebrate the first century of motion pictures and contemplate the uncertain future of commercial cinema. Called upon to speak about the future of film, Lars von Trier showered a bemused audience with red pamphlets announcing "Dogme 95".

In response to criticism, von Trier and Vinterberg have both stated that they just wanted to establish a new extreme: "In a business of extremely high budgets, we figured we should balance the dynamic as much as possible."[3]

The first of the Dogme films (Dogme #1) was Vinterberg's 1998 film Festen (The Celebration). It was critically acclaimed and won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Lars von Trier's Dogme film, Idioterne (The Idiots), also premiered at Cannes that year but was less successful. Since the two films were released, other directors have made films based on Dogme principles. French-American actor and director Jean-Marc Barr was the first non-Dane to direct a Dogme film: Lovers (1999) (Dogme #5). American director Harmony Korine's film Julien Donkey-Boy (Dogme #6) is also considered a Dogme film. In total, thirty-five films made between 1998 and 2005 are considered to be part of the movement.

The end credits of Het Zuiden (South) (2004), directed by Martin Koolhoven, included thanks to "Dogme 95". Koolhoven originally planned to shoot it as a Dogme film, and it was co-produced by von Trier's Zentropa. Finally, the director decided he did not want to be so severely constrained as by Dogme principles.

Since the late 2000s, the emergence of video technology in DSLR photography cameras, such as the Canon EOS 550D, has resulted in a tremendous surge of both feature and short films shot with most, if not all, of the rules pertaining to the Dogme 95 manifesto. However, because of advancements in technology and quality, the aesthetic of these productions typically appears drastically different from that of the Dogme films shot on Tape or DVD-R Camcorders. Largely erasing the primitive and problematic features of past technologies, newer technologies have helped Dogme 95 filmmakers achieve an aesthetic of higher resolution, as well as of lower contrast, film grain, and saturation.

Goals and rules

The goal of the Dogme collective is to purify filmmaking by refusing expensive and spectacular special effects, post-production modifications and other technical gimmicks. The filmmakers concentrate on the story and the actors' performances. They believe this approach may better engage the audience, as they are not alienated or distracted by overproduction. To this end, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg produced ten rules to which any Dogme film must conform. These rules, referred to as the "Vow of Chastity", are as follows:[1]

  1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)
  3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
  4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera.)
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.

Uses and abuses

The above rules have been both circumvented and broken from the first Dogme film to be produced. For instance, Vinterberg "confessed" to having covered a window during the shooting of one scene in The Celebration (Festen). With this, he both brought a prop onto the set and used "special lighting". Von Trier used background music (Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns) in the film The Idiots (Idioterne). Korine's Julien Donkey-Boy features two scenes with non-diegetic music, several shot with non-handheld, hidden cameras and a non-diegetic prop. Von Trier, however, praised the film's transgressions on an interview released on the Epidemic DVD.

Like the No Wave Cinema creative movement, Dogme 95 has been described as a defining period in low budget film production.[4]

Since 2002 and the 31st film, a filmmaker no longer needs to have his or her work verified by the original board to identify it as a Dogme 95 work. The founding "brothers" have begun working on new experimental projects and have been skeptical about the later common interpretation of the Manifesto as a brand or a genre. The movement broke up in 2005.[5]


American film critic Armond White criticized the movement, stating that it was "the manifesto that brought filmmaking closer to amateur porn". He believed the movement would be rejected as insignificant by film historians.[6]

Notable Dogme films

A complete list of the 35 films is available from the Dogme95 web site.[7]

Use of concept

The 2001 experimental film Hotel, directed by Mike Figgis, makes several mentions of the Dogme 95 style of filmmaking, and has been described as a "Dogme film-within-a-film".[8][9]

The use of 'Dogme 95' style filming is in a list of a hostage taker's demands in the Black Mirror episode, "The National Anthem".

Keyboard player and music producer Money Mark used principles inspired by Dogme 95 to record his Mark's Keyboard Repair album.[10]


In 2015, the Museum of Arts and Design celebrated the movement with the retrospective The Director Must Not Be Credited: 20 Years of Dogme 95. The retrospective included work by Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Jean-Marc Barr, Daniel H. Byun, Harmony Korine, Kristian Levring, Annette K. Olesen, and Lone Scherfig.[11][12]

Notable figures

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Utterson, Andrew (2005). Technology and Culture, the Film Reader. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-31985-0.
  2. ^ Krause, Stefanie (2007). The Implementing of the 'Vow of Chastity' in Jan Dunn's "Gypo". Verlag. ISBN 978-3-638-76811-5.
  3. ^ Sfectu, Nicolae (2014). The Art of Movies.
  4. ^ Coulter, Tomas (2004). "Low-budget movements that defined cinema": 26.
  5. ^ Kristian Levring interview (via Internet Archive)
  6. ^ White, Armond (March 9, 2004, Updated Feb 16, 2015). "Digital Video Dogpatch: The king of false movement directs his ice queen", New York Press. Retrieved on 2019-04-26.
  7. ^ "Dogme Films | - A tribute to the official Dogme95". Archived from the original on December 31, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  8. ^ Brook, Tom (April 6, 2002), Figgis unlocks Hotel's secrets, BBC News, archived from the original on February 3, 2014, retrieved February 1, 2014
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 26, 2003), Hotel, Roger Ebert, archived from the original on February 20, 2014, retrieved February 3, 2014
  10. ^ "Interview with Money Mark - Ableton". Archived from the original on May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  11. ^ "The Director Must Not Be Credited: 20 Years of Dogme 95". Museum of Arts and Design. Museum of Arts and Design. Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  12. ^ Berman, Judy. "What Dogme 95 did for women directors". The Dissolve. Pitchfork Media, Inc. Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2015.

External links


Amerikana is a 2001 Dogme 95 movie.

When philosophy student Peter (Goorjian) is abandoned by his Danish girlfriend in Los Angeles, his friend Chris (Duval) invites him to South Dakota to claim a Harley Davidson he has inherited from an uncle. After he finds out it is an Italian Vespa, Chris decides to take it to L.A. anyway with a reluctant Peter, and they embark on a cross-country journey that allows them to explore the US and discover the nature of people and their own contradictions. A sort of free homage-remake of Easy Rider (1969), it was the 13th film created under Dogme 95 rules.


Festen (also known as The Celebration) is a 1998 Danish black comedy-drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and produced by Nimbus Film.

With a budget of US$1.3 million, the film tells the story of a family gathering to celebrate their father's 60th birthday. It is a dark comedy juggling subjects of death, trauma and family. Vinterberg was inspired to write it with Mogens Rukov, based on a hoax broadcast by a Danish radio station.[1]It was the first Dogme 95 film, an artistic movement created by Danish directors Vinterberg and Lars von Trier. The movement preferred simple and analog production values to allow for the highlight of plot and performance. Festen was selected as the Danish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[3][4] In addition, it won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival in 1998.


Fuckland is a 2000 Argentine comedy-drama film. It was written and directed by José Luis Márques. The picture was executive produced by Diego Dubcovsky, and produced by Edi Flehner and Mariano Suez.The film was shot on digital video and is the first Latin American film to follow the avant garde Dogme 95 movement minimalist guidelines.

Joy Ride (2000 film)

Joy Ride (in Swiss German: Usfahrt) is a 2000 Swiss drama film written and directed by Martin Rengel that followed Lars von Trier's Dogme 95 manifesto. It is classified as the 14th dogme movie. Joy Ride employs a very realistic, near-documentary style, with a story based on the homicide of a 19-year-old girl in Zürich, Switzerland in 1992. The incident attracted a great deal of media coverage in Switzerland.

Julien Donkey-Boy

Julien Donkey-Boy is a 1999 American drama film written and directed by Harmony Korine. The story concentrates on the schizophrenic Julien, played by Scottish actor Ewen Bremner, and his dysfunctional family. The film also stars Chloë Sevigny as Julien's sister, Pearl, and Werner Herzog as his father. Julien Donkey-Boy is the sixth film to be made under the self-imposed rules of the Dogme 95 manifesto, and the first non-European film to be made under the Dogme 95 "vow of chastity".

Lars von Trier

Lars von Trier (born Lars Trier; 30 April 1956) is a Danish film director and screenwriter with a prolific and controversial career spanning almost four decades. His work is known for its genre and technical innovation; confrontational examination of existential, social, and political issues; and his treatment of subjects such as mercy, sacrifice, and mental health.Among his more than 100 awards and 200 nominations at film festivals worldwide, von Trier has received: the Palme d'Or (for Dancer in the Dark), the Grand Prix (for Breaking the Waves), the Prix du Jury (for Europa), and the Technical Grand Prize (for The Element of Crime and Europa) at the Cannes Film Festival. In March 2017, he began filming The House That Jack Built, an English-language serial killer thriller.Von Trier is the founder and shareholder of the international film production company Zentropa Films, which has sold more than 350 million tickets and garnered seven Academy Award nominations over the past 25 years.

Lone Scherfig

Lone Scherfig (born 2 May 1959) is a Danish film director and screenwriter who has been involved with the Dogme 95 film movement and who has been widely critically acclaimed for several of her movies, including the Oscar-nominated film An Education (2009). Scherfig's movies are generally romantic comedies, including her film One Day (2011), based on the David Nicholls novel. Through both experimenting with creative constraints and her astute attention to detail, she has come to be recognized as a significant talent in the film industry.

Mifune (film)

Mifune (Danish: Mifunes sidste sang, "Mifune's Last Song"), 1999, is the third film to be made according to the Dogme 95 group rules. It was directed by Søren Kragh-Jacobsen. The film was a great success in Denmark and an international blockbuster, ranked among the ten best-selling Danish films worldwide.

It was produced by Nimbus Film.

At the 49th Berlin International Film Festival, the film won the Silver Bear – Special Jury Prize and Iben Hjejle won an Honourable Mention.

New Puritans (literary movement)

The New Puritans was a literary movement ascribed to the contributors to a 2000 anthology of short stories entitled All Hail the New Puritans, edited by Nicholas Blincoe and Matt Thorne. The project is said to have been inspired by the Dogme 95 manifesto for cinematic minimalism and authenticity. The young writers in the anthology deliberately eschewed many of the devices favoured by the pre-eminent British literary generation exemplified by Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie.

Open Hearts

Open Hearts (Danish: Elsker dig for evigt), is a 2002 Danish drama film directed by Susanne Bier using the minimalist filmmaking techniques of the Dogme 95 manifesto. It stars Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Sonja Richter and Paprika Steen. Also referred to as Dogme #28, Open Hearts relates the story of two couples whose lives are traumatized by a car crash and adultery. Joachim, a young man, is made a tetraplegic and hospitalized indefinitely by a car crash after being hit by Marie. Marie's husband Niels is a doctor at the hospital, and he falls for Joachim's fiancee Cecilie, and they have an affair. Niels then leaves his wife, teenage daughter and two young boys for Cecilie, who abandons Joachim.Open Hearts received a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes movie review website. Susanne Bier received the International Critics Award at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival "for the fact that it proves that dogma has come of age and matured into a potent cinematic language that skillfully captures the freeing of real emotions that extreme trauma creates within the lives of the characters in her film." The film won both the Bodil and Robert awards for Best Danish Film in 2003.

Red Road (film)

Red Road is a 2006 British-Danish thriller film directed by Andrea Arnold and starring Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, and Natalie Press. It tells the story of a CCTV security operator who observes through her monitors a man from her past. It is named after, and partly set at, the Red Road flats in Balornock, Glasgow, Scotland which were the tallest residential buildings in Europe at the time they were built. It is shot largely in a Dogme 95 style, using handheld cameras and natural light. The Observer polled several filmmakers and film critics who voted it as one of the best British films in the last 25 years.Red Road is the first film in Advance Party, a projected trilogy following a set of rules dictating how the films will be written and directed. They will all be filmed and set in Scotland, using the same characters and cast. Each film will be made by a different first-time director.

Resin (film)

Resin is a 2001 American drama film directed by Steven Sobel (under the pseudonym Vladamir Gyorski). It is the twenty-third film in the Dogme 95 film movement.

Reunion (2001 film)

Reunion, also known as American Reunion, is a 2001 American film directed by Leif Tilden and Mark Poggi using the filmmaking techniques of Dogme 95 style. It stars Billy Wirth and Jennifer Rubin in a bittersweet tale about six former classmates gathering 24 hours before their 20th high school reunion. Reunion is listed as the 17th film to conform to the minimalist tenets of the Danish avant-garde school of Dogme.

The Idiots

The Idiots (Danish: Idioterne) is a 1998 Danish comedy-drama film written and directed by Lars von Trier. It is his first film made in compliance with the Dogme 95 Manifesto, and is also known as Dogme #2. It is the second film in von Trier's Golden Heart Trilogy, preceded by Breaking the Waves (1996) and succeeded by Dancer in the Dark (2000). It is among the first films to be shot entirely with digital cameras.

The King Is Alive

The King Is Alive is a 2000 dramatic horror film directed by Kristian Levring. The fourth film to be done according to the Dogme 95 rules, it was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.

The Outcome

The Outcome (Spanish: El desenlace) is a 2005 Spanish drama film directed by Juan Pinzás. It was entered into the 27th Moscow International Film Festival. It is the 31st Dogme 95 film.

Thomas Vinterberg

Thomas Vinterberg (born 19 May 1969) is a Danish film director who, along with Lars von Trier, co-founded the Dogme 95 movement in filmmaking, which established rules for simplifying movie production. He is best known for the films The Celebration (1998), Submarino (2010), The Hunt (2012) and Far from the Madding Crowd (2015).

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