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The Celebration (1998) More at IMDbPro »Festen (original title)

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The Celebration -- In this gripping drama, friends and family gather at a grand country estate for the patriarch's birthday, when his son delivers a toast that turns it into a surprise party from hell.
The Celebration -- At Helge's 60th birthday party, some unpleasant family truths are revealed.


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8.1/10   63,466 votes »
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Up 5% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Thomas Vinterberg (screenplay) &
Mogens Rukov (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for The Celebration on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 June 1998 (Denmark) See more »
Every family has a secret. See more »
At Helge's 60th birthday party, some unpleasant family truths are revealed. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Golden Globe. Another 31 wins & 19 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A barbecue for Danish family values See more (257 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Ulrich Thomsen ... Christian

Henning Moritzen ... Faderen - Helge

Thomas Bo Larsen ... Michael

Paprika Steen ... Helene
Birthe Neumann ... Moderen - Else

Trine Dyrholm ... Pia
Helle Dolleris ... Mette
Therese Glahn ... Michelle
Klaus Bondam ... Toastmasteren - Master of Ceremonies
Bjarne Henriksen ... Kokken - Kim
Gbatokai Dakinah ... Gbatokai
Lasse Lunderskov ... Onklen - Uncle

Lars Brygmann ... Receptionisten - Receptionist
Lene Laub Oksen ... Søsteren - Sister
Linda Laursen ... Birthe
John Boas ... Farfar - Grand-dad
Erna Boas ... Farmor - Grandma
Bent Henningsen ... Statister - Extra
Poul Kajbæk ... Statister - Extra
Vibeke Dalset ... Statister - Extra
Janne Thomsen ... Statister - Extra
Anette Jakobsen ... Statister - Extra
Poul Petersen ... Statister - Extra
Gulli Sejrsen ... Statister - Extra
Vibeke Kaiser ... Statister - Extra
John Johnsen ... Statister - Extra
Dan Eilertsen ... Statister - Extra
Søren Søgreni ... Statister - Extra
Annette Jakobsen ... Statister - Extra
Kate Goldschmidt ... Statister - Extra
Jens Nørring ... Statister - Extra
Bent Kaiser ... Statister - Extra
Maria Myrgård ... Statister - Extra
Peter Krag ... Statister - Extra
Stig Poul Hansen ... Statister - Extra
Kaj Rasmussen ... I Køkkenet - In The Kitchen
Robert Strandgård ... I Køkkenet - In The Kitchen
Gry Worre Hallberg ... I Køkkenet - In The Kitchen
René ... I Køkkenet - In The Kitchen
Christine Louise Jørgensen ... Børn - Children
Dorte Olofsen ... Børn - Children
Kasper Olofsen ... Børn - Children
Emilian Sejersen ... Børn - Children
Susanne Funck ... Børn - Children
Rosmarie Jørgensen ... Børn - Children
Lasse Jacobsen ... Børn - Children
Sigrid Aalbæk Jensen ... Børn - Children (as Sigrid Aalbæk)
Mikkel Jacobsen ... Børn - Children
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Birgitte Simonsen ... Christian's Friend (uncredited)

Thomas Vinterberg ... Taxi Driver (uncredited)

Directed by
Thomas Vinterberg (uncredited)
Writing credits
Thomas Vinterberg (screenplay) &
Mogens Rukov (screenplay)

Thomas Vinterberg (idea)

Produced by
Birgitte Hald .... producer
Morten Kaufmann .... line producer
Original Music by
Lars Bo Jensen 
Cinematography by
Anthony Dod Mantle 
Film Editing by
Valdís Óskarsdóttir  (as Valdis Oskarsdottìr)
Casting by
Rie Hedegaard 
Lene Seested 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Eigil Jacobsen .... assistant director (as Eigil Jakobsen)
Sound Department
Morten Holm .... sound designer
Bruno Langiano .... foley artist
Ad Stoop .... boom operator
Nick Watson .... sound consultant: Dolby
Kasper Val Bjerregård Larsen .... sound engineer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Peter Hjorth .... technical supervisor
Thomas Bo Larsen .... stunts
Camera and Electrical Department
Peter Hjorth .... additional camera operator
Lars Høgsted .... still photographer
Editorial Department
Thomas Caspersen .... synchronization: location
Jan Gundtofte-Bruun .... synchronization: location
Vagn Rose .... assistant editor
Music Department
Lars Bo Jensen .... musician: piano
Other crew
Mie Andreasen .... production staff
Jens Arentzen .... consultant
Peter Hjorth .... technical supervisor
Signe Leick Jensen .... production staff (as Signe Jensen)
Torben Stig Nielsen .... production staff
Alex Panagakis .... publicist
Karina Strand .... production staff
Camilla Thomsen .... production staff
David C.H. Østerbøg .... production staff (as David Østerbøg)
Jens Arentzen .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to
Trine Breum .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to
Susanne Bruun de Neergaard .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to, Skjoldenæsholm Hotel og Konferencecenter
Per Fly .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to
Karin Trille Høy .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to (as Trille Høy)
Jørgen Kromann .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to (as Jørgen Kromann Larsen)
Ole Christian Madsen .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to
Birgitte Simonsen .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to
Ingerlise Vinterberg .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to
Carsten Walbom .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to
Lone Walbom .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to (as Lone)
Maria Walbom .... acknowledgment: we are profoundly, unreservedly grateful to

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Festen" - Denmark (original title)
"The Celebration: Dogme #1" - Canada (English title) (DVD title)
See more »
Rated R for strong sexual content and language, including references to sexual abuse
105 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Thomas Vinterberg "confessed" to having covered a window during the shooting of one scene, which is a breaking of two Dogme rules - no bringing props onto the set, and no use of special lighting.See more »
Crew or equipment visible: In an early scene, a cameraman can be seen reflected in a bedroom mirror (director Thomas Vinterberg noticed this but kept it in).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.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in For Pete's Wake! (2007)See more »
I Skovens dybe stille roSee more »


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31 out of 53 people found the following review useful.
A barbecue for Danish family values, 11 December 1999
Author: Philby-3 from Sydney, Australia

Having read about the film makers' "Dogme 95" charter I was expecting something pretty bizarre here but "Festen" (festival, celebration) co-written and directed by Thomas Vinterberg turned out to be the fairly orthodox tale of a traumatic family reunion. The only oddball feature, which added nothing to the dramatic impact, was the deliberately coarse film quality, achieved, it seems, by using a digital video camera. Perhaps "no artistic egos were destroyed in the making of this film" but the impression I got was that somebody competent was in charge, albeit somebody with a taste for odd camera angles.

The story centres around Christian, who travels back to the family country hotel (in Denmark) from his successful Paris restaurant to celebrate his father's 60th birthday. We soon discover the family are a pretty gross lot. There's a nymphomaniac sister, a violent, overbearing younger brother, and a twin sister who has committed suicide. Father is a burly dirty-minded bully with a short fuse "protected" by his elegant but cowed wife. Naturally a family like this has enough dirty linen to fill the hotel laundry which they proceed to reveal in the course of the evening in front of twenty or thirty guests, who, just in case they were thinking of leaving, have had their car keys hidden from them. Complicit in all of this are the long-suffering hotel staff, who can't see it happening to a more deserving bunch of people.

It's a bit difficult to say much about the acting - not understanding Danish is a bit of a barrier- let alone Danish mores. Christian (Ulrich Thomsen) is played as the still centre - we find out about him from what others say- yet he holds our attention throughout. Thomas Bo Larsen as Michael the obnoxious younger brother puts in a full-blooded manic performance and Paprika Steen as their sister Helena gave her role plenty of depth. The father (Henning Moritzen) was a bit two-dimensional - not enough charm to offset his basic nastiness. Among the minor players, I particularly liked Lars Brygman as Lars, the reception clerk, who never loses his (somewhat stunned) composure even as he is lying fully clothed in a bathtub at the behest of Helena looking for ghosts in the ceiling. I also liked Helmuth (Klaus Bondam), the Danish idea of the comic German toastmaster, who after some particularly shocking revelations at the dinner table manages to suggest dessert, coffee and dancing in the lounge - and the stunned guests meekly comply.

There were hints of Bunuel in this movie ("there's nothing charming about the bourgeiose") and perhaps "Last Year in Marienbad." The spirit of Ingmar Bergman was not far away either. The hotel itself, near Stockholm, according to the rather wavery credits, had a pretentious overstuffed, claustrophobic atmosphere that seemed quite appropriate.

Well. I don't know if Dogme 95 has anything new to say about film-making, but this was a watchable story. I think, however, anyone coming from a family like that would avoid reunions at all costs, even if seeking revenge.

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