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Trailer Watch: In a Better World Directed by Susanne Bier

Trailer Watch: In a Better World Directed by Susanne Bier

This woman is a master. Her version of Brothers was way superior to the American remake and After the Wedding is stunning. She got screwed when she came here and made Things We Lost in the Fire.

The film played at Sundance, it is nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film and just won the Golden Globe. Later this month she is the front runner to win the Oscar, so maybe we will actually see a woman director get up and be acknowledged for her film.

Film opens in the US on April 1.

Here’s the beginning of an interview with Bier, from Sundance.

If she were American rather than Danish, Susanne Bier would likely be one of the more recognizable filmmakers in the world. She specializes in emotionally gripping, character-based dramas that manage to be both accessible and aesthetically accomplished. Pigeonholed in the American arthouse, she’s really making stories for the masses. After edging toward stateside recognition with a 2007 Oscar nomination for After the Wedding, and after last year’s American remake of her wartime love triangle Brothers, the lid might have finally come off when her latest film, In a Better World, took home the award for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Golden Globes.

A contemporary allegory about cycles of aggression and revenge, the film alternates between middle class families in small-town Denmark and a medical outpost outside a war-ravaged African village. It’s a film very much of its moment, but it also addresses perennial questions about how men can coexist without constantly punching one another’s lights out—or destroying civilization in the process. In advance of the film’s U.S. premiere at the Festival (and her position as a member of the World Dramatic Jury this year), Ms. Bier talked about the art of storytelling, and why she remains an optimist despite the fragile state of the world.

Full interview

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So is Eric Hynes (interviewer) or me (the one who couldn’t get past his first sentence) the bigger idiot here?

Diane Meier

Sorry to make this a comment of a comment – but …
Jen — Your’e kidding, right?

Here’s a good example of what we’re talking about:
Isabel Coixet’s film “Elegy” — Ben Kingsley, Peter Sarsgaard, Patricia Clarkson and Penelope Cruz. The film version of the a Philip Roth novel and perfectly brilliant. Beautifully dressed, written, shot, acted. All the pedigrees are there, except for one: Directed by a woman.

On top of it, Coixet did a lot of her own camera work.

Kingsley’s performance, by the way, is stunning. But did you hear about it? Probably not. It was displayed in only about a hundred theaters all over America. If that. And it only played a week (sometimes only a weekend) in those very very few theaters. If you blinked, you missed it. No advertising. No publicity. No money behind it. No event.

And who’s heard of Coixet? Have you?

Now think about. Given the line up (Kingsley, Cruz and Roth), had it been directed by – say, Barry Levinson or Steven Soderberg — do you think you might have heard about it? Do you think your local theater might have picked it up?

It’s a movie for grown-ups, so I’m not suggesting that in this environment of violent-kiddie entertainment, it would have made money if it had been directed by Soderberg… But, come on — as Aaron Sorkin might have written, “I’m just saying…”


If she were an American woman, she might not have a career at all. Our European counterparts are able to work directing commercials and in some countries there are a large number of women directing television. I’ve also noticed that they tend to get married and have children, in direct contrast to most of the successful female directors here.


As I have only been reading your blog for about a month, I value the commentary about the work of women but don’t yet have a sense of the whole picture. How do you suppose the recognition of Susanne Bier as a filmmaker would differ if she were American rather than Danish? Is being American central to the popularity of one’s work in film? Do writers like Eric Hynes ever say “If [woman filmmaker] were male rather than female, she would likely have been more successful”? I guess what I’m really wondering is: how much does the industry acknowledge the gender disparities?

Thank you for writing Women & Hollywood.

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