MANIFEST DOGMA 95: “FILM IS NOT ILLUSION!”, First part – “The Celebration”

Dogme 95 presents a cinematic movement created in the spring of 1995. by Danish directors Vinterberg and Lars von Trier that corresponds with simplicity and values active performance with heavy topics. Vinterberg, who is now famous for his “pictures” such as “Another Round” (2020.) and “ The Hunt” (2012.), (with Mads Mikkelsen staring in both movies) is one of those artists that from the very beginning of his career structured cinematic realism in his work. His spontaneous approach to action and a loose idea of the plot give freedom to reality to solve itself and make a compact storyline. Cinematic nobility with the artistic name of Lars von Trier, a Danish director, made its name famous worldwide because of his controversial approach of showing bizarre and rarely talked about parts of life in movie theatres. “Melancholia”, “Antichrist”, “Dancer in the Dark” and “Breaking the Waves” are just some of his pieces that cover his working opus with themes of unhappiness and hopelessness, questioning God and higher purposes. Trier’s and Vinterberg’s early works immediately found support from other rebellious directors of that time such as Kristian Levring, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen, ​​Cristiano Ceriello, and Richard Martini creating the ground of a new cinematic system with its manifesto and infamous “Vows of Chastity”. The new cinematic avant-garde wave provided a rise of low-budget films and raw experiences on screen. This revolution against illusionist (dared to say, fake) Hollywood movies with expensive productions shows liberating tendencies and flourishes new ideas to come in the sphere of filmmaking.



Here is the original text of the document “Vows of Chastity” according to the official Dogme 95 site:


“I swear to submit to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by DOGMA 95:


  1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)
  3. The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
  4. The film must be in color. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera.)
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.

Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste! I am no longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a “work”, as I regard the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations.


Thus I make my VOW OF CHASTITY.
Copenhagen, Monday 13 March 1995
On behalf of DOGMA 95
Lars von Trier Thomas Vinterberg”


The first movie of Dogma 95 presents a lively game took place in front of the cinematic audience and sword, to tell the truth, and only the truth. The Celebration (Danish: Festen) is a 1998 Danish dark comedy-drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg and produced by Nimbus Film. The screenplay is written by an idea based on a true story, told by a patient in a mental hospital, that turned out to be false, which adds a thrilling character to the fiction. The intense and disgusting theme of drama was based on the script and tells the story of terrible family violence, accidents and scandals. For the protagonists of the play, the sons and daughters, it becomes problematic, and painful, to return home, stay in it and leave it again, because it destroys a good life, reputation and the idea of a functional family that they painted on their faces.



Ahead of us is a particularly unusual (father’s) birthday party, a training ground for the release and explosion of all accumulated demons, hidden deep in the souls of the children of the house, as well as the rest of the household. Controversial jokes and the blackest humour prevail over the apparently naive celebration. Happy relatives and wonderful people enter the space from which they will leave forever changed. Everyone gathered comes from different parts of the world to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of Father Helge, the head of the family. “I would like to start this celebration with the first toast!…” says the eldest son Christian courageously and skillfully performing his acting task, showing determination and fulfilling the duty of his character – to speak the truth. With the text of his toast in his father’s name, he leaves everyone present speechless. The family tragedy, the suicide of Christian’s twin sister, acquires a hitherto hidden dimension and explanation. The fake family glow begins to fade rapidly until it disappears completely. Secrets are on the table. We learn that something unforgivable happened a long time ago and has been happening in this house for a long time.


When that little Christian’s speech, which has been waiting to be said for many years, is finally delivered, it will lock the door on all the lies of this house. There is no misunderstanding. Things got out of control long before. The rustle of the past has become too loud to ignore. The clinking of the silverware invokes the ceremony. The sound of broken glasses and spilt wine demands justice.



At the same time, several plots of the film are being developed. The backgrounds of many characters, cohabitants, house owners and servants, and their many secrets and alliances during the celebration are served, like the menu, on the cinematic stage. Michael, the brother, and Christian’s sister Helene – the children of this family, are lost, suffered, damaged and strayed on different sides, but still they stick to each other.


On that evening of celebration, darkened lives came to an end, so there is no use for anyone here to pretend, hide, or deceive. In the family circle of perverted natures, the central place has always been occupied by the celebrant, the father figure. Do you still think nothing happened?


The film tells this disturbing family story by showing that horrific acts break even the unbreakable, the owners of big capital, the metal industry – those “hard as steel”. There is a long, very long way to find a happy ending, but the confrontation has begun.



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