Lars von Trier, born April 30, 1956, is a Danish film director and screenwriter with a prolific and controversial career spanning almost four decades. His work is known for its genre and technical innovation; confrontational examination of existential, social, and political issues; and his treatment of subjects such as mercy, sacrifice and mental health. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and awesome facts about Lars von Trier.
1. Among his more than 100 awards and 200 nominations at film festivals worldwide, von Trier has received: The Palme d’Or, the Grand Prix, the Prix du Jury, and the Technical Grand Prize and the Cannes Film Festival.
2. In March 2017, he began filming The House That Jack Built, an English-language serial killer thriller.
3. Von Trier is the founder and shareholder of the international film production company Zentropa Films, which has sold more than 350 million tickets and garnered seven Academy Award nominations over the past 25 years.
4. Von Trier was born in Kongens Lynbgy, Denmark, north of Copenhagen, to Inger Host and Fritz Michael Hartmann, the head of Denmark’s Ministry of Social Affairs and a World War II resistance fighter.
5. He received his surname from Host’s husband, Ulf Trier, whom he believed was his biological father until 1989.
6. He studied film theory at the University of Copenhagen and film direction at the National Film School of Denmark.
7. At 25, von Trier won two Best School Film awards at the Munich International Festival of Film Schools for Nocturne and Last Detail.
8. The same year he won two Best School Film awards, he added the German nobiliary particle “von” to his name possibly as a satirical homage to the equally self-invented titles of directors Erich von Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg.
9. In 1995, his dying mother told her son on her deathbed that the man he believed to be his father, in fact, wasn’t his biological father. Following her death, he tracked down his biological father, a 90 year old German who after four combative meetings told him that, if he wanted to speak to him again, he could do it through his lawyer.
10. In 1996, he broke up with his pregnant wife and moved in with their much younger babysitter.
11. He’s the nephew of filmmaker Borge Host.
12. He helped form a collective known as Dogme 95 with a group of other filmmakers. The collective agreed to make movies following certain rules, such as using only hand held cameras and shooting only on location.
13. The year von Trier won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, he almost didn’t attend the ceremony. He has so many phobias, he could only make the trip in a specially outfitted trailer.
14. Steven Spielberg offered him the chance to direct a movie in America after he saw Europa, but von Trier turned the script down.
15. He was awarded UNICEF’s “Cinema for Peace Award” at the 2004 Berlinale. He got the award because almost all of his films deal with subjects like mercy and ethics.
16. He was scheduled to direct the four operas of Wagner’s Ring at the 2006 edition of the Bayreuth Festival in Germany, but withdrew from the project in 2004 and stated through the festival that he felt that it would exceed his powers and that he didn’t feel able to fulfill his own ambitions.
17. Udo Kier is the godfather of his daughter Agnes.
18. Von Trier has said that one of his favorite films is The Philadelphia Story.
19. He was due in 2007 to begin work on a horror movie, Antichrist, which postulates that the Earth was created by Satan rather than God. However, it was reported in May 2007 that he was suffering from depression and might cease filmmaking altogether.
20. He shares the same birthday with Jane Campion and Jacques Audiard. The three directors and writers are all winners of the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
21. Thirteen moving boxes worth of material from Lars von Trier’s life has been stored in a special collection at the Danish Film Institute library in 2017. Most of the material came from Trier’s own basement. Some of it has also been used for an exhibition at Brandts in Odense, Denmark.
22. Von Trier is heavily influence by the work of Carl Theodor Dreyer and the movie The Night Porter.
23. He was so inspired by the short film The Perfect Human, directed by Jorgen Leth, that he challenged Leth to redo the short five times in the feature film The Five Obstructions.
24. During the German occupation of Denmark, von Trier’s supposed father Frtiz Michael Hartmann worked as a civil servant and joined a resistance group, Frit Denmark, actively counteracting any pro-German and pro-Nazi colleagues in his department.
25. Von Trier’s mother considered herself a Communist, while his father was a Social Democrat.
26. Both his mother and father were committed nudists, and von Trier went on several childhood holidays to nudist camps.
27. He has noted that he was brought up in an atheist family, and that although Ulf Trier was Jewish, he was not religious.
28. Von Trier’s parents didn’t allow much room in their household for feelings, religion or enjoyment, and also refused to make any rules for their children, with complex effects upon von Trier’s personality and development.
29. Von Trier periodically suffers from depression, and also from various fears and phobias, including an intense fear of flying.
30. Von Trier has a known penchant for working with actors and production members more than once. His main crew members and producer team has remained intact since the movie Europa.