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VON TRIER, LARS: DOGME DISSOLVES

CHASTITY BY MAIL ORDER
Danish directors Lars von Trier & co rest their stamps, allowing filmmakers to decide whether they are Dogme or not. "Of course they can cheat, but they are essentially cheating themselves," von Trier tells our European correspondent JORN ROSSING JENSEN in a rare interview. And at left, the actors who signed up for roles after death in von Trier's Kingdom sequel.

Danish director Lars von Trier and his three co-signatories of the Dogme 95 manifesto - Thomas Vinterberg, Sren Kragh-Jacobsen and Kristian Levring - have decided that they will no longer authorise new Dogme films. In the future any film may achieve a Dogme certificate, if the director claims in a sworn statement that it was produced from the Danish 1995 vow of cinematic chastity.

"Of course they can cheat, but they are essentially cheating themselves. Dogme was never intended as a shield you could hide behind. The more fashionable it has become, also the more boring," said von Trier, as he cancelled the presumption that the four directors must approve all new Dogme films. "We have achieved what we wanted. Now it is up to others." von Trier, Vinterberg, Kragh-Jacobsen and Levring will all leave their - somewhat different - interpretations of Dogme 95 on the internet. If a filmmaker feels that his or her work applies to one of them, they are free to demand their certificate from a Dogme secretariat shortly to be established in Copenhagen. The licence will arrive by mail.

"The manifesto itself was without any value, but it states a couple of limitations which can be useful to work from. I have always thought that the most important rule was that picture and sound should be recorded simultaneously. It excludes manipulation - you cannot cheat afterwards in the editing room. I am still using it as a principle when shooting."

"When we originally discussed the vow of chastity, we had no ambitions to change the world, such as - for instance - the French nouvelle vague. But if in 25 years some film students accidentally excavate the manifesto and find the 10 rules interesting, we will obviously be happy, but it was not our initial purpose," continued von Trier.

"What to me personally has been worth the whole Dogme excercise is the fact that a lot of people in Russia or Argentina or anywhere else in the world have realised that also they can make films - in spite of how costly and complicated they have always heard it is. Using the new technology everybody has access to the screen."

While the four directors behind the Dogme principle discontinue their executive powers, Dogme itself is still in the international headlines - although "signing an oath of purity in the movie business is rather like playing a Mozart quartet in a whorehouse," as US critic David Denby
wrote in the New Yorker (13 September, 1999).

DANCER IN THE DARK
Meanwhile von Trier is himself editing his $15 million musical Dancer in the Dark, starring Bjoerk and Catherine Deneuve. After having seen the first 45 completed minutes of the film Zentropa Entertainment's CEO, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, decided not to make any presales at the 1999 Milan film market MIFED, but to wait for its presentation at Cannes 2000 and demand a higher price. "I have never before refused that much money," said sales director Thomas Mai, of Trust Film Sales, which handles international distribution.
Dancer in the Dark has also sold to the US, the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, besides going to France, Italy and the Benelux through co-production agreements.

DOGME 95
THE VOW OF CHASTITY
I swear to submit to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by
Dogme 95:

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. (The film must not take place where the camera is
standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place)

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 is 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 35mm

10. The director must not be credited
Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste. I am no
longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a "work", as I regard
the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force
the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the
means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic
considerations.

Thus I make my vow of chastity.
Copenhagen, Monday 13 March 1995
On behalf of Dogme 95
Lars von Trier. Thomas Vinterberg. Sren Kragh-Jacobsen. Kristian Levring

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Lars von Trier

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Simultaneously with the co-production work on his musical, Dogme signatory von Trier is preparing the grand finale of his DR-TV soap, Riget (The Kingdom). Different from the previous installments, it will unspool as one long 110-minute episode. Some of the actors have passed away since the first production in 1993, including Ernst-Hugo Jaeregard, but they have signed contracts they can appear as ghosts.

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Of the three Danish Dogme films which have so far been released, Vinterberg's Festen (The Celebration) has been the most successful, sharing the jury prize at Cannes 1999, drawing 396,000 paying patrons at home and selling to 48 countries around the world.
The Idiots - Lars von Trier's Dogme film.

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