Lone Scherfig was the first of a number of women directors to take up the challenge of Dogme, the back-to-basics, manifesto-based, rule-governed, and now globalized film initiative introduced by Danish filmmakers Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg in 1995. Entitled Italiensk for begyndere (Italian for Beginners), Scherfig’s Dogme film transformed this already accomplished filmmaker into one of Europe’s most noteworthy women directors. Danish and international critics lavished praise on Scherfig and her film, and their reactions harmonized with those of festival juries.
Battered by life, but by no means defeated or destroyed, the characters in Italian for Beginners are all in touch at some deep intuitive level with the truth that is the film’s basic message: that happiness and a sense of self-worth are sustained by love—by romantic love, to be sure, but also by inclusion in a community of like-minded people.
The book includes the Dogme manifesto and interviews with the filmmaker as well as with the cast and crew.
Mette Hjort is Chair Professor and Head of the Department of Visual Studies at the Liberal Arts University of Hong Kong, Lingnan University