'Commune' director in Berlin wants Danes to share with refugees

Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:30pm EST
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By Swantje Stein

BERLIN (Reuters) - Danish director Thomas Vinterberg says he hopes his film "Kollektivet" (The Commune) will help his countrymen recognize the importance of sharing -- especially with refugees -- despite curbs enacted in Denmark.

Vinterberg, who grew up in a commune, said it disturbs him when Denmark puts ads in newspapers in the Middle East warning would-be refugees that benefits had been cut for new arrivals.

Last month, the Danish parliament passed measures aimed at deterring refugees from seeking asylum, including confiscating valuables to pay for their stay, despite protests from international human rights organizations.

The so-called "jewelery bill" was the latest attempt by Denmark's minority center-right government to curb immigration to a country that took in a record 20,000 refugees last year.

Vinterberg, who had his breakthrough with his 1998 film "Festen" (The Celebration), said the commune had taught him the value of sharing -- and he felt most Danes would support this despite the benefit curbs.

"What I find very important to stress here is that behind that there's a population of pretty good-hearted people who I just think are confused and fearful about what's going on," he told Reuters on Thursday.

"And I'm hopeful -- I don't think that this film will change anything -- but hopefully the values of generosity and sharing can re-awaken at some point."

    Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, who plays a woman who talks her husband into turning their home into a commune, said it was more important than ever to talk about togetherness.   Continued...

Director Thomas Vinterberg arrives for a news conference to promote the movie 'The Commune' at the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 17, 2016.      REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch