Danish director and screenwriter Lars von Trier (Nymphomaniac) has been awarded The Sonning Prize (Sonningprisen) and one million kroner by the University of Copenhagen for his outstanding contribution to European culture.
Chairman of the Academy Council, Milena Bonifacini, said: “As a filmmaker, Lars von Trier has managed to give different genres his very own interpretation. In that sense, he is a ground-breaking and avantgarde artist who positions himself confidently and self-consciously in a place far removed from the ever more commercialised mainstream films.”
“It’s this continued embrace and break with the conventional, which sets Lars von Trier’s work apart and has contributed to making European film something special.”
Lars von Trier made a name for himself on Danish television with dark comedy Riget (The Kingdom) in 1994 as he began to break with conventional perfectionism, and this led to the Dogme 95 manifesto, which has since influenced many European films. His international film breakthrough followed in 1996 with Breaking The Waves.
Milena Bonifacini said: “In The Kingdom, Lars von Trier challenged his own drive for control and aesthetically pleasing perfection in favour of a more unpolished realism, where the characters became the main element.”
“In Breaking the Waves, he went one step further and led the camera himself. Since then, grandiose emotions have been a central element in his films. This has allowed his often demanding films to be relevant and loved by a big global audience.”
The Sonning Prize, presented every two years, was established in the will of Danish editor and author Carl Johan Sonning (1879–1937). The Sonning Prize 2018 will be awarded on the anniversary of CJ Sonning’s birthday, 19th April, in the Ceremonial Hall at the University of Copenhagen.