Danish director Thomas Vinterberg is known for co-founding Denmark’s Dogme movement, best expressed in his film “A Celebration,” which wowed Cannes in 1998. After a journey of creative risk-taking with English-language films “It’s All About Love” and “Dear Wendy,” Vinterberg returned home for a major comeback with “The Hunt,” cowritten by Tobias Lindholm (“A Hijacking”), which earned Mads Mikkelsen the Best Actor prize at Cannes in 2012 and was a hit in Denmark, which submitted it this year as its official Oscar entry.
If the Best Actor category weren’t so intensely competitive, Mikkelsen would have a strong chance at a nomination for his penetrating portrayal of a decent school teacher whose life is shattered when he is falsely accused of being a pedophile. One spreading lie throws his community into a state of hysteria as his friends ostracize him and the teacher fights back against the witch-hunt alone. “Suddenly this kind, lovely civilized man becomes this uncivilized creature,” says Vinterberg, “and people start clapping.” (My video interview with Mikkelsen is here.)
The film is playing well for the Academy foreign film voters, some of whom milled around Vinterberg and Mikkelsen at a recent UTA screening. After starring in television’s “Hannibal,” which was shot in Toronto, Mikkelsen is a globally bankable star–able to topline an action movie or drama or thriller. He looked relaxed as he joked with Academy members about Toronto mayor Rob Ford as the gift that keeps on giving, rendering all of Denmark’s political scandals as strictly minor league.
Vinterberg also came to L.A. in a good mood, after completing principal photography in England on the period adaptation “Far from the Madding Crowd,” starring Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts and Michael Sheen, which he promises will be his own take on Thomas Hardy. He never watched the entire John Schlesinger film. Likely unveiling of the Vinterberg version: Cannes 2014.