"Italian for Beginners" was the international breakthrough for acclaimed Danish director Lone Scherfig ("An Education"). Part of the influential Danish Dogme movement, the film is a story of the joy that can be found in community, as six vulnerable individuals with very different backgrounds meet in an Italian night school class.
"Lone Scherfig's Italian for Beginners", a new book by Mette Hjort, gives a detailed analysis of Scherfig's signature work.
Mette Hjort is author of several books on Danish cinema:
Danish Directors 2 – Dialogues On The New Danish Fiction Cinema (2010)
On The Five Obstructions (2008)
The Cinema of Small Nations (2008)
Small Nation, Global Cinema – The New Danish Cinema (2005)
Danish Directors – Dialogues On A Contemporary National Cinema (2003)
Purity and Provocation – Dogma '95 (2003)
Cinema and Nation (2000)
Mette Hjort sees "Italian for Beginners" as a particularly important film because it represents a new genre of "ethical feel-good" films. "It affirms a kind of modest happiness that can be achieved without consuming the world's resources at a rate that is unsustainable," writes Hjort in the introduction.
"Lone Scherfig's Italian for Beginners" looks at how the film was influenced by Scherfig's earlier work and the Dogme movement. The book draws on interviews with some of the key collaborators on the film, among them the director herself and two of the main actors. Mette Hjort has also had access to scripts, awards and interviews from Scherfig's personal archive.
Mette Hjort is Chair Professor and Head of the Department of Visual Studies at Lingnan University Hong Kong.
The book is published by University of Washington Press and Museum Tusculanum Press in the book series Nordic Film Classics and is available at www.mtp.hum.ku.dk.
Mette Hjort about the Nordic Film Classics series