IFC Original Doc Dissects Dogme95

Richard Kelly Examines Film Movement in “The Name of This Film
Is Dogme95” Premiering Monday, June 5 at 10PM/ET&PT
Lars von Trier’s “Medea” to Precede Doc Monday, June 5 at

(dtg’ muh) n., pl. –mas 1. A system of doctrines proclaimed true by a religious sect. 2. A principle, belief, idea or opinion, especially one authoritatively considered to be absolute truth. 3. A system of principles or beliefs.

Okay, so you’re wondering what this Danish craze called Dogme95 is all about. Here’s how it goes: You shoot a film following, as closely as possible, the Dogme95 cinematic oath. Then, you present it to the four Dogme Brothers, who proclaim it an official Dogme95 film according to their personal interpretation of The Vow of Chastity*. You then solemnly declare your adherence to the Dogme95 Manifesto, upon which a Dogme certificate is issued declaring your film an official Dogme95 film.

In the Independent Film Channel’s (IFC) original production The Name of This Film is Dogme95, directed by Saul Metzstein (this is a no-no, see rule 10), documentarian Richard Kelly takes a comical approach to the Dogme95 filmmaking movement. As Kelly importantly points out, “no one has yet asked the key question about the Dogme95 movement[is it] a whole new way of looking at life through a lens or is it just some kind of twisted, Danish practical joke.” The Name of This Film is Dogme95 will premiere exclusively on the Independent Film Channel Monday, June 5 at 10PM/ET&PT.

Not clear yet on Dogme95? Read on-

Dogme95 is a collective of film directors founded in Copenhagen in 1995 who adhere to a specific “system of principles or beliefs.” While these beliefs may not be religious in the biblical sense, they are a strict set of rules (The Vow of Chastity) conceived by the four Dogme Brothers that filmmakers must follow in order for his/her film to qualify as Dogme95 material.

The Four Dogme Brothers and The Vow of Chastity

The Four Dogme Brothers, — Thomas Vinterberg (Dogme1: The Celebration), Lars von Trier (Dogme2: The Idiots), Soren Kragh-Jacobsen (Dogme3: Mifune) and Kristian Levring (The King is Alive) — in search of cinematic purity, came up with the idea of having rules for filmmakers to follow. The rules — simple, basic. In short, you can only use a hand-held camera, no artificial lighting or sound, no props or sets, you must shoot on location . . . oh yeah, and the director cannot be credited. As the manifesto states, “to Dogme95 the movie is not an illusion.”

Or is it? Earlier this year, Kelly was commissioned to write a book about the Dogme95 movement. Kelly explains, “The idea for my book and this documentary is very simple: I’m just going to hit the road to Copenhagen and hunt down these crazy Danes and ask them what the hell they think they’re doing.” Shot on location in Copenhagen, The Name of This Film is Dogme95 examines the bizarre — if you will — thinking behind Dogme95 through interviews with the Dogme Brothers. In search of an answer, Kelly attempts his own interpretation of the Dogme95 rules of filmmaking.

“This revolutionary movement has returned cinema to its purist form,” comments Caroline Kaplan,Vice President, Film & Program Development, IFC Films. She adds, “This film explains the movement in a humourous, yet straight forward, manner that takes something seemingly foreign and makes it universal.”

Web crawlers will be able to check out Kelly’s journal and behind-the-scenes photographs from the filming of The Name of This Film is Dogme95 on IFC’s official website at www.ifctv.com. Hardcore film fans can tune-in early for a dose of von Trier old-school style with IFC’s special presentation of Medea on Monday, June 5 at 8:30PM/ET&PT.

Richard Kelly grew up in Northern Ireland, writing about cinema in Belfast. After matriculating at Bristol University, he began working at the British Film Institute, graduating from the masters program. He then worked as a researcher for BFI TV. In 1997, he wrote an “oral history” of cult English director Alan Clarke. He was soon hired by Faber and Faber, in early 1999, to produce a book on the growing phenomenon of Dogme95, with the cooperation of the brotherhood. The result, The Name of This Book is Dogme95, is scheduled for publication in November 2000.

The Name of This Film is Dogme95 is the latest in a rich tradition of original documentaries on filmmakers produced by IFC Productions. Preceded by the award-winning The Typewriter, the Rifle & the Movie Camera, In Bad Taste: The John Waters Story, Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance, A Brief History of Errol Morris and Kurosawa: The Last Emperor, this film will be the first to explore an entire filmmaking movement. The Name of This Film is Dogme95 premieres June 5 at 10PM/ET&PT, exclusively on IFC.

The Independent Film Channel (IFC), managed and operated by Bravo Networks, is the first channel dedicated to independent film presented 24 hours a day, uncut and commercial-free. The Independent Film Channel, reaching more than 30 million homes on a full-time basis, is the most widely distributed channel dedicated to independent film on television.


Stephanie DeCanditis
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