Thomas Vinterberg Calls Parents' Decision to Raise Him in 1970s Commune "Courageous"

The Commune Thomas Vinterberg
Christian Geisnaes

"There was a time when people were sharing," said the director of his latest film's real-life inspiration. "Those days are over and I miss that."

Danish auteur Thomas Vinterberg doesn't personally believe in open relationships, but admires his parents' generation for their idealism and courage.

"Well, here I am," the filmmaker answered when asked by a reporter at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday for his attitude to open relationships depicted in his drama, The Commune, which has its international premiere in competition here. The film is about the clash between individualism and solidarity in a 1970s Swedish commune.

It turns out Vinterberg spent part of his childhood in a commune, amid open relationships. "No, I've never been a believer in open relationships, but what I strongly appreciate from that [1970s] generation was that they tried things. They wanted to escape from the mediocrity of living. ... They were thinking away from the everyday trap, and I found that courageous," he told the festival presser.

The Commune, the director's follow-up to his Oscar-nominated drama The Hunt, stars In A Better World actors Ulrich Thomsen and Trine Dyrholm, Lars Ranthe and Fares Fares. Vinterberg insisted he didn't make a film about an unruly family as he looked to his childhood for inspiration.

"I wrote a love declaration to my childhood in a commune. I wrote this out of longing. There was a time when people were sharing. Those days are over and I miss that," he said.

Vinterberg also drew parallels between his commune upbringing and his later collaboration along with Lars Von Trier in the controversial Dogme 95 film movement.

"The Dogme movement was very comparable to our commune, to the extent that, when my parents moved into this house along with some crazy families of that time, they did something outrageous. It wasn't heard of before," the director said. He added launching Dogme was similarly fraught with taboo-breaking.

"People said this is suicidal, this is the end of your career. This will be all over very soon. You can't make movies like that. That's what gave us the sensation of being on thin ice together," Vinterberg recalled.