Lone Scherfig's Italian for Beginners

Mette Hjort

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: Scandinavian Studies; Film and Media Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 296 pp., 14 illus., 5.5 x 7.5 in.
  • Territorial rights: Not Avail Uk, Eire, Cont Eur
  • Series: Nordic Film Classics
  • Contents

Lone Scherfig was the first of a number of women directors to take up the challenge of Dogme, the back-to-basics, manifesto-based, rule-governed, and now globalized film initiative introduced by Danish filmmakers Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg in 1995. Entitled Italiensk for begyndere (Italian for Beginners), Scherfig's Dogme film transformed this already accomplished filmmaker into one of Europe's most noteworthy women directors. Danish and international critics lavished praise on Scherfig and her film, and their reactions harmonized with those of festival juries.

Battered by life, but by no means defeated or destroyed, the characters in Italian for Beginners are all in touch at some deep intuitive level with the truth that is the film's basic message: that happiness and a sense of self-worth are sustained by love - whether romantic love or that of a community of like-minded people. The film struck an important chord with viewers precisely because it took Dogme in a new direction, one that reflects Scherfig's sensibilities and preferences as a woman.

The book includes the Dogme manifesto and draws on interviews with the filmmaker as well as with the cast and crew.

Watch the book trailer:
Mette Hjort is chair professor and head of visual studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, China.

Preface Why "Italiensk for Begynder (Italian for Beginners)"?
1. Lone Scherfig The Person, the Ouevre
2. Practitioners' Agency The Impact of the Dogma Framework
3. Critical Reception Toward the Idea of an Ethical Feel-Good Movie
4. Kindness On the Manifestation of a Consistent Attitude
5. A Different Kind of Feel-Good Movie "Italian for Beginners" and Moral Learning
Dogma 95: A Manifesto

"Italian for Beginners" Credits

"[A]n excellent introduction of the subject [Dogme], and is not over dependent on the now considerable literature on it."
-Edward Gallafent, Viewfinder, October 2011