June 25, 2021
The Danish director’s new Oscar-winning film Another Round is about a group of teachers who dedicate themselves to getting drunk. He talks about losing control, patching up his friendship with Lars von Trier and the death of his daughter
Thomas Vinterberg: ‘There is a great need for the uncontrollable – but little room for it today’
Thomas Vinterberg looks back on the past six months with disbelief. “I made a film about four white, middle-aged, semi-fat men teaching their students to drink. I didn’t think it would survive.” Instead, Another Round swept the award ceremonies (best foreign language film at the Oscars and Baftas; best film at the European film awards and London film festival), and proved a spectacular box office success in his native Denmark when it opened between Covid restrictions. Vinterberg is a boyish 52-year-old, with an open smile and chestnut hair that has a touch of gel. A priest’s cassock hangs from the bookcase behind his chair. It is easy to overlook the cassock but, like Chekhov’s gun, it fires in the final act.
Vinterberg admits his film evolved in the making. “The initial idea was to be provocative. We wanted to celebrate alcohol and drinking. But that idea hit reality. It is a film about the generation divide. I hope it is a film about how we care for one another.” Another Round opens with a title card quoting the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard: “What is youth? A dream. What is love? The dream’s content.” This thought comes alive as golden youths are seen racing around a lake on an idyllic summer’s day, carrying crates of beer that they must finish as a team. It is a summer bacchanal, drawn from real life. “Both of my oldest daughters took part in the Lake Run,” Vinterberg says. “When I described it to American Friends, they were shocked. They listened to the rules: the winners are the first to finish the crate. They wanted to know, was I OK with this? How could I tell them, actually, I was kind of proud?”
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