Friday Movie Night : Festen/ The Celebration (1998) with Danish Food

Festen won the 1998 Jury Prize at Cannes but appears to have been almost ignored in Britain. With introductory talk from Dr Jimmy Hay of Bristol University


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The Independent: 'A monstrously primitive genius of a movie.'

In the startling Ebenezer tradition of bringing you truly great movies that many will never hear of because commercial cinemas wouldn't dream of showing them, we are proud to present one of the greatest films of the Danish Dogme school of moviemaking. This is Scandi-noir at its very best and most extreme!

The plot is deceptively simple: a family celebration that all goes horribly wrong, marred by revelations from the past. A wealthy, successful pater familias summons his family and friends to his grand house to celebrate his birthday and an army of skeletons come charging out of the closet.

This astonishing film is one of Ebenezer's very favourites. The movement that inspired it represents an anti-Hollywood, anti-special effects, anti-corny music, anti-superficial sentimental storytelling genre that subverts the conventions of commercial cinema. It has had a profound effect on independent, challenging film-making across the world.

These Dogme films, and Festen, in particular, are funny, raw, explosive, endlessly surprising studies in character and situation. They deliberately avoid all directorial gimmicks.

In Festen, this results in a visual and dramatic masterpiece... it is also diabolically funny. BUT NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED... WARNING.

We are especially pleased that we have managed to rope in Dr Jimmy Hay to set us on our way. Jimmy is a Lecturer in Film and Television at the University of Bristol, a huge fan of Festen and Dogme in general, and will give us a brief introductory talk...


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Dr Jimmy Hay

Our introductory speaker, is a filmmaker and academic. He is a Lecturer in Film and Television at the University of Bristol, and his debut feature film, High Tide, was released theatrically in 2015, and was released on DVD in Summer 2016. He recently directed the BFI and FFilm Cymru Wales funded short film Zero Sum, which premiered at the Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival, and is currently developing a second feature film. He has written on a number of areas of European and American Independent Cinema, including an article on the award-winning short film Alumbramiento (Chapero-Jackson, 2007) in the journal Short Film Studies, as well as a chapter on the relationship between space and sexual behaviour in the films Belle de Jour i(Bunuel, 1967) and The Piano Teacher (Haneke, 2001), for the Wiley-Blackwell published volume,' Companion to Luis Bunuel (Stone, R. & Gutiérrez-Albilla, J. D. 2012).

Food for this evening

... will not be the usual celebrated Ebenezer soups, but something deliberately Danish, provided by the owner of the Seed Factory, Marie-Louise Chittenden, a great Dane herself, and a huge enthusiast of Dogme films -- in fact, she inspired us to show Festen. She has been a tremendous supporter of the Ebenezers, and may even be persuaded to talk about her admiration for Dogme tonight.




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Reviews

'A monstrously primitive genius of a movie...' The Independent See Review

'a black-tie psyche-bashing blowout with latter-day Shakespearean overtones....' New York Times See Review

2016Martin Keeley