Dogme 95 and Family Secrets in “Festen”

We all believe our families to be the “weirdest” or the most “eccentric” purely out of the benign fact that they are the people we know best. This is, of course, an entirely subjective matter, and one that also depends on the level of trust we have with our loved ones. It’s this universal credence, and the secrets that make it possible, that are explored to their fullest in Festen, a Danish film that will warp and reduce your claims of having the strangest family. 

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg, a founding member of the Dogme 95 Collective of Danish filmmakers seeking to regain creative control over their films (in opposition to major studios), Festen tells the story of a supposedly normal family who reunites to celebrate the patriarch’s 60th birthday. With the reveal that one of his daughters recently committed suicide, the film begins to explore the dynamics of family relations when terrible secrets begin to surface.

Filmed in a very naturalistic way, with great performances and an atmosphere completely different from any American film, this creative masterpiece by Vinterberg will draw you in from the beginning and keep you guessing until the very end. An exploration of Danish sentiments (in regards to class, sex, and race) as well as an excellent portrait of a family full of skeletons in the closet, Festen is definitely the film you should watch next.

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