william steig drawing

Thomas Vinterberg

Race in Film: Festen (The Celebration)

The inclusion of an African American character in Thomas Vinterberg’s 1998 film Festen (see previous post) is a curious thing.  First I should make clear that the character is indeed an American man of African descent, not a black Dane, or an African immigrant (an important distinction). In the middle of Helge’s birthday dinner, sister Helene’s boyfriend Gbatokai (played by Gbatokai Dakinah*) arrives outside in a cab. Surprise! He’s black! Thinking he’s a hotel guest come to rent a room, brother Michael runs out to send him away, and is ridiculously offensive. Poor Michael can’t stop trying to prove his masculinity. He makes a fool of himself once again attempting to defend an institution that will soon be proved a […]

Festen (The Celebration)

* This is a particularly rambling one, so get a snack or something* When I was younger (I’m an ancient 26 now if you must know) I was very anti hand held camera. I do not like extraneous camera movement. I’m not a fan of the hovering camera. There are rarely any truly static shots anymore and this breaks my heart. In a spirit of instinctive contradiction I am avoiding all camera movement, which is so much in the fashion that the experts think it indispensable. – Jean Cocteau First you must understand that everything you read comes straight from the moist soul of a deeply devoted Visconti fan (he is in my gut you know. Helmut Berger lives inside […]