20 Essential Dogme 95 Films You Need To Watch

14. Lonely Child (Pascal Robitaille, 2005)

Lonely Child film

The first Canadian Dogme film loyally follows all the restrictions introduced by the Dogme 95 manifesto, resulting in a harshly honest yet beautiful piece of art. While in most Dogme films the big revelation comes from the characters themselves, in Lonely Child the camera is the omnipresent hidden eye that cruelly unveils the secrets of the gay lovers.

With a spontaneous, documentary-style cinematography, Pascal Robitalille’s film is the cinematographic diary of William (Emmanuel Schwartz), filming his last trip together with Mederic (Dhanae Audet-Beaulieu), his younger lover. The central character of the story is Mederic, struggling to reveal the truth to his parents about his sexual orientation. Pascal Robitaille found the best way to do a deeply moving, personal film on a subject that for many is a taboo.


13. Resin (Steven Sobel, Vladimir Gyorski, 2001)


The American Dogme, classified as the 23rd movie of the movement, is a powerful story of the underworld. Rather different from the Danish Dogme films focusing on the existential problems of the upper-middle class, Resin gives an insight into the world of prisons and drug-dealers.

Steven Sobel makes a good use of the Dogme rules in a way that the purity of filmmaking gives a strong credibility to the picture. Although Resin is a fictional film, its visual style brings it so close to documentary that makes the audience forget that Zeke is just a character, wonderfully played by David Alvarado.


12. Open Hearts (Susanne Bier 2002)

Open Hearts

Romance seems to be the field where the Dogme statement against genres most often fails. Open Hearts is a romantic drama featuring some excellent Danish actors. Paprika Steen plays Marie, a perfectly ordinary wife who runs over Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas – another regular Dogme actor), a recently engaged young man in a car accident.

The interesting fact about Nikolaj Lie Kaas in Dogme films is his frequent involvement with cars. He first appears as Jeppe in The Idiots, jumping on the top of the car in which his love is being taken away. His second feature also involves a mild car accident: as P in Truly Human he is almost run over by his father. He does not make it through the accident this time, and ends up in hospital, paralyzed from the neck down.

Joachim’s fiancée (Sonja Richter) is devastated when the paralyzed man drives her away and she seeks consolation with Niels (Mads Mikkelsen), Marie’s husband. As it is the case with most Dogme films, Open Hearts lets the actors reign. A beautiful performance is given by all, resulting in a captivating film that makes fundamental, honest revelations about marriage and relationships. Susanne Bier’s piece is exactly that kind of film, which would follow the happy ending of a typical Hollywood romance.


11. Reunion (Mark Poggi, Lief Tilden, 2001)

American Reunion

The 17th film that has officially been recognized by the Dogme 95 committee is an entertaining, poignant, and shamefully almost forgotten American movie. Mirroring The Celebration and One Upon Another Time, Reunion is centred on the event of a gathering – in this case a high-school reunion.

Although it does not live up to the grandeur of The Celebration, Reunion is one of the few honestly pleasant Dogme films, which instead of alienating the audience get them totally submerged in the story told by the warm images. The somewhat awkward, initial slowness of the film turns into rather emotional nostalgia by the end, reminding all of us of the good old days, unfulfilled dreams and the possibilities of life.


10. Old, New, Borrowed and Blue (Natasha Arthy, 2003)

Old, New, Borrowed and Blue

They say the big challenge is not to make a great first film, but to do a good second film. Natasha Arthy successfully meets this challenge with Old, New, Borrowed and Blue, which is a magnificently delightful Danish black comedy, (despite the minor rule breakings which are quite frequent in Dogme films) and is recognized by the Dogme 95 movement.

This film with its dark humour is a witty response to the typical big budget wedding romances. Katrine (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is getting married in a day, so it is time to gather the bride’s necessary props for the big event; something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Her help is a friend recently returned from Kenya, Thomsen (Bjorn Kjellman), who turns out to be slightly more attractive than it would be desirable in the situation. Their adventure is utterly funny with cruel, realistic moments, providing a similarly joyful cinematic experience to Italian for Beginners.


9. Lovers (Jean-Marc Barr, 1999)

Lovers 01-HERO

Lovers is the fifth in the row of Dogme films and the first non-Danish production. It is a characteristically French romance that catches fire when Jeanne (Elodie Bouchez), who works in a bookshop, meets Dragan (Sergei Trifunovic), the Yugoslav immigrant. The heat quickly reduces though, as the purity of Dogme provides nothing else for the viewer but the couple.

They are together in suffocating empty rooms, dark alleyways, but most of all they are embarrassingly close to the audience in the moments of boredom and argument. There is no colourful set to brighten up this romance, just the uneasy depression of the reality that Dragan is an illegal immigrant; therefore the lovers soon have to face a difficult situation.

Jean-Marc Barr’s film is the opposite of the usual Parisian romance with the Art Deco background of coffee shops and meandering little streets. Here the emptiness of the Dogme rules the screen, and at some point it is hard to decide whether this void affects the couple’s relationship, or it is there to reflect their inner world.

A memorable scene is when Dragan takes Jeanne to a Yugoslav party, where the camera dances along with the couples in the semi-darkness, going extremely close to the members of the band or the tipsy people on the dance floor. Here the tactless intimacy of the apparatus well reflects the sudden drunken warmth between Dragan and Jeanne, creating a beautiful Dogme moment.


8. In Your Hands (Anette K. Olesen, 2004)

FORBRYDELSER (aka IN YOUR HANDS), Ann Eleonora Jorgensen, Trine Dryholm, 2004

The Dogme movement saw numerous exceptional contributions from female directors, of which one example is Anette K. Olensen’s In Your Hands. Apart from the actors, the director’s sensitivity to social realism and female emotions are the main drivers in this film, which depicts the story of Anna (Ann Eleonora Jorgensen), a pastor appointed to a women’s prison.

Anna meets a healer, Kate (Trine Dyrholm), who, when it turns out that her pregnancy might be in danger, becomes her figure of hope until she finds out the reason behind Kate’s imprisonment.

Dogme films’ strong focus on truth results once again in a spellbinding movie, that keeps you stuck in front of the screen with its strong emotional tension. If there is anything common in Dogme films is their shocking revelations of human secrets and the strong involvement they induce in their audience. In Your Hands is an exceptional piece of the Dogme 95, although not as experimental as the first films, it is strongly revealing.