DOB: April 30, 1956
Background: Von Trier was born in Denmark, the son of nudists who brought him often to nudist camps when he was a child. His unconventional upbringing included no parental rules, and he turned to cinema as an outlet through which to engage with the outside world. He began making films on a Super 8 camera when he was eleven, and eventually he attended the National Film School of Denmark, where he made films that won awards at the Munich International Festival of Film Schools.
Filmography: He directed numerous short films before directing "The Element of Crime" in 1984, followed by "Epidemic" (1987), "Europa" (1991) and the TV miniseries "The Kingdom" (1994). In 1995, he started the Dogme 95 movement in filmmaking, which stressed the importance of story, acting, and theme over production values. After producing his Dogme 95 manifesto he had his international career breakthrough: "Breaking the Waves" (1996), which earned an Oscar nomination for its star, Emily Watson. He followed that with the polarizing musical "Dancer in the Dark" (2000), starring Icelandic singer Bjork and featuring the song "I've Seen it All," which warned von Trier an Oscar nomination. He made "Dogville" in 2003, which was made with minimal sets on a nearly empty soundstage and courted controversy for its heavy criticism of American society; he also made a sequel in 2005 called "Manderlay" made in the same minimalist style. After the comedy "The Boss of It all" (2006), he directed another polarizing film, "Antichrist" (2009), which was accused of misogyny and criticized for its violent and sexually explicit imagery. His latest film, "Melancholia," was honored at the Cannes Film Festival, but the director himself was ejected from the event after offending many with insensitive comments about Hitler and the Nazis.
Best Original Song nomination:
- "I've Seen It All" ("Dancer in the Dark," 2001); lost to Bob Dylan, "Things Have Changed" ("Wonder Boys")
Cannes Film Festival: Wins - Palme d'Or ("Dancer in the Dark," 2000); Grand Prize of the Jury ("Breaking the Waves," 1996); Jury Prize ("Europa," 1991); Technical Grand Prize ("The Element of Crime," 1984)
European Film Awards: Win - Best Director ("Dogville," 2003)
National Society of Film Critics: Win - Best Director ("Breaking the Waves," 1997)
Don't miss the latest
Emmys news and predictions