This article discusses contemporary Danish director Susanne Bier, whose recent features have received international exposure and acclaim. It situates Bier as a female filmmaker, analyzing what her status as a female director might add to a reading of the circulation of her work in the contemporary global terrain of film festivals and criticism. Bier's recent work demonstrates properties of both art cinema and popular European genre cinema; as a result, estimations of her films' critical and cultural worth have frequently been divergent and arguably gendered. The discussion focuses on three films: Brothers (Brødre, 2004), After the Wedding (Efter brylluppet, 2006), and In a Better World (Hævnen, 2010). Concerned with addressing a local and transnational audience, these films depict the intimacy of the Danish nuclear family while also developing distinctly transnational plotlines centered on the figure of a male sojourner who travels to undertake humanitarian work. These films confuse the categories of popular cinema and art cinema, fueling the divergent appraisals of Bier's oeuvre. The author argues that the films deploy the popular and gendered dimensions of melodrama in ways that critique the masculine underpinnings of art cinema. Central to this reading of Bier's director image and her films are the increasingly transnational dimensions of women's film practice and the broader decentering of paradigms of national cinema over the past two decades.
Belinda Smaill; The Male Sojourner, the Female Director, and Popular European Cinema: The Worlds of Susanne Bier. Camera Obscura 1 May 2014; 29 (1 (85)): 5–31. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2408498
Download citation file: