Lars Von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac' Campaign Birthed From Nazi Comments at Cannes

 TrustNordisk. Photographer: Caspar Sejersen

DUBLIN, Ireland -- The campaign for Lars von Trier's two-part sex epic Nymphomaniac only came about because of the Danish director's controversial headline-grabbing Nazi comments during the Festival de Cannes in 2011, according to the movie's digital marketing specialists.

Speaking at the Digital Biscuit conference in Dublin, The Einstein Couple – made up of husband-and-wife team Philip Lipski and Maria Biilmann – claimed that the Danish director handed them the project having vowed to keep silent following the backlash over his comments at the press conference for Melancholia, in which he claimed to "understand Hitler."

"He's always done his own campaigns before, he always knew exactly what he was doing," said Lipski during a discussion session on film marketing at the Irish event.

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"But this time he told us he's not going to say a word. He said he wanted a campaign that can speak for the movie so he can keep his mouth shut, so he can keep his promise not to speak to the press."

The duo were also urged by the film's producer to widen von Trier's usual target audience, whom they said would always go and see his movies no matter what.

"He knows that he has the grumpiest audience in the world, and they will come and they will love or hate him for it. But wouldn't it be good if they could bring their friends, begin a conversation? They said we had to make it accessible," said Lipski.

"He knew he couldn't just do the normal trick of make a movie, go to Cannes, make a splash, have one poster and say hey, that's it. He said he had some very complicated people working on the film, meaning a lot of actors. He said, let's show them who's working on it."

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Taking the filmmaker's lead, the couple went to work trying to create something that would be accessible to everyone, "except nuns, monks and children," said Biilmann.

The result, a series of images of each member of the cast pulling a climactic face, spread like wildfire online and has caused arguably the biggest buzz for any of von Trier's films to date. Subsequent parodies, including ones by Danish film critics to promote the local equivalent of the Oscars, cemented its effect.

"The story of this campaign is that if you've had a little sex this movie might be for you," smiles Lipski.

Following the response, the uncut four-hour version of Nymphomaniac at next month's Berlinale has become one of the festival's biggest talking points.

Digital Biscuit, which concludes Friday after three days of activity in Dublin's Science Gallery, also featured discussions with Borgen producer Camilla Hammerich, and was opened by local filmmaking legend Jim Sheridan.

Among the main topics of focus was Ireland's animation industry, now experiencing something of a boom thanks to local outfits Brown Bag Films and Cartoon Saloon, whose fantasy epic The Secret of Kells was nominated for best animated feature at the 2010 Oscars.

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