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The Celebration (1998)

Festen (original title)
R | | Drama | 19 June 1998 (Denmark)
1:00 | Trailer

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At Helge's 60th birthday party, some unpleasant family truths are revealed.




(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 28 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Birthe Neumann ...
Moderen - Else
Helle Dolleris ...
Therese Glahn ...
Klaus Bondam ...
Toastmasteren - Master of Ceremonies
Bjarne Henriksen ...
Kokken - Kim
Gbatokai Dakinah ...
Lasse Lunderskov ...
Onklen - Uncle
Receptionisten - Receptionist
Lene Laub Oksen ...
Søsteren - Sister
Linda Laursen ...


The Father turns 60. His family, which is a big one of the kind, gathers to celebrate him on a castle. Everybody likes and respects the father deeply...or do they? The youngest son is trying to live up to the father's expectations. He is running a grill-bar in a dirty part of Copenhagen. The oldest son runs a restaurant in France, while the sister is a anthropologist. The older sister has recently committed suicide and the father asks the oldest son to say a few words about her, because he is afraid he will break into tears if he does it himself. The oldest son agrees without argument. Actually he has already written two speeches. A yellow and a green one. By the table, he asks the father to pick a speech. The father chooses green. The oldest son announces that this is the Speech of Truth. Everybody laughs, except for the father who gets a nervous look on his face. For he knows that the oldest son is about to reveal the secret of why the oldest sister killed herself. Written by Jonas L.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Alle familier har en hemmelighed See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content and language, including references to sexual abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| |

Release Date:

19 June 1998 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

The Celebration  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$27,621 (USA) (9 October 1998)


$1,647,780 (USA) (19 February 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was declared to be the worst-dubbed movie released in 1999, in Germany. See more »


As the guests dance through the house, a boom mic can clearly be seen in the bottom left corner of the screen as they enter one of the rooms. See more »


[first lines]
[subtitled version]
Christian Klingenfeldt: [on his cellphone] Christian speaking... Hi, I'm here now. I landed this morning. What? Er... Washed? I shaved at the airport if you must know. I shaved at the airport if you must know! I'm fine... right now I'm looking across the fields. At the land of my father. It's beautiful. It makes me want to move back for good, but that'd be problematical. I'll make it. Yes, I suppose it will be... shocking. What?... You're dropping out. O.K. Bye.
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Referenced in Storytelling (2001) See more »


I Skovens dybe stille ro
By Fritz Andersen
See more »

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User Reviews

Provocative dialogue ensures rapt attention
20 March 2003 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Vinterberg's "Festen" which follows the strict guidelines of Dogma 95 could perhaps be hampered in its artistic approach, but not so here. Indeed with the hand-held camera the reality of the scene is intensified to such an extent one feels an integral part of the drama.

It's a family celebration of father Helge's 60th birthday. It's strange though that all the guests seem to arrive at the same time, speeding up the driveway in great excitement. There is lots of noise. hugs and kisses and the camera intruding in a mischievous way.

This family has some terrible dark secrets known to some, not to all. They are divulged by the eldest son Christian (Ulrich Thomson) in his dinner speech toasting his father. This is a wonderful scene, tense, sharp, riveting. The guests are shaken to the core. Is he telling the truth or is he having a wicked game with the assembled company? It's great stuff - really compelling drama.

The history of the family can be pieced together from information revealed in a series of toasts, but Christian's contribution renders the party speechless. It's a fairly noisy film with lots of people talking together, having arguments (Christian's brother Michael {Thomas Bo} has an uncontrollable temper) or screaming in frustration. These out bursts contrast so well with the scenes of stunned silence. They are quite electrifying moments - no words are necessary.

Films like this one make movie-watching well worthwhile. No wonder it won a Jury Prize.

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