Home LIFESTYLE Style News Lars von Trier’s Production Company Faces Sexual-Harassment Allegations

Lars von Trier’s Production Company Faces Sexual-Harassment Allegations

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Weeks after Björk accused director Lars von Trier of harassing her on the set of the 2000 film Dancer in the Dark, nine women who worked for von Trier’s production company are claiming that it was a hostile environment full of degradation and sexual harassment, per Variety. The claims were originally published in a report by Danish newspaper Politiken.

The women who came forward allege that Zentropa, a Scandinavian company von Trier co-founded with Peter Aalbæk Jensen, was a toxic place to work. Former employees claim that Jansen groped their breasts and spanked them. He used the company Christmas party, they allege, as a platform for “several sexually degrading acts.”

“I think that everyone who has been employed by Zentropa has been exposed to or witnessed certain things—both sexually charged acts and bullying or ‘teasing.’ All of this was an ingrained part of the culture,” said Meta Louise Foldager Sørensen, a producer who worked there from 2006 to 2010. She co-produced the von Trier films Antichrist and Melancholia.

Anne Mette Lundtofte, a writer who worked there for three years and published the book Zentropia, said she “saw women being degraded” in a workplace that reinforced “an old-fashioned, patriarchal power structure.”

Aalbæk Jensen told Politiken he has “no interest in submission and humiliation [but he’s] interested in challenging boundaries, even up to the red line.”

Anders Kjærhauge, the company’s managing director, told Politiken the allegations “are personal experiences and I am sad that this is how they feel, but this is not the Zentropa I know.”

He said that the company is working with its employees to establish clear guidelines moving forward. “We will initiate a process with our employees in order to prepare a more clear vision in regards to what is a good working place. Zentropa has always been an act of balance between art and business, between rules and chaos, between women and men, between challenging boundaries and respecting boundaries, and so forth. The various discussions and writings in Denmark has made it clear to us that we need to make a ‘service check’ on our act of balance.”

The company’s management also released a statement on Monday: “The company culture at Zentropa will continue to be colourful and alterative, but we do not wish to violate anyone’s rights or insult anyone.”

Representatives for von Trier have not responded to Vanity Fair’s request for comment.

The allegations arrive a few weeks after Björk posted a lengthy Facebook message alleging that she was sexually harassed when she starred in Dancer in the Dark, though she did not explicitly name either the director or the film. (Instead, she alluded to a “Danish director” on a film set; Björk has appeared in just a handful of feature films, and just one, Dancer in the Dark, was directed by a Dane.) In her message, Björk was immediately uncomfortable, alleging that “humiliation” and sexual harassment were a routine part of the job.

“I became aware of that it is a universal thing that a director can touch and harass his actresses at will and the institution of film allows it,” she wrote.

Von Trier soon denied her allegations. “That is not the case—although we didn’t get along, that’s a fact. . . . On the other hand, she delivered one of the greatest-ever performances in my movies,” he told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, via Variety.

His denial emboldened Björk to double down on her claims. She responded by writing a second Facebook post, this time detailing von Trier’s alleged behavior, including unwanted touching, violent behavior, inappropriate sexual offers, and “fabricated” rumors that painted her as a difficult star to work with—pointing directly to the false report that she ate her own shirt during production.

“If being difficult is standing up to being treated like that, I’ll own it,” she wrote. Also: “I have never eaten a shirt. Not sure that is even possible.”

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Full ScreenPhotos:Bruce Springsteen: Further Up The Road
“The Football,” Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1982

“The Football,” Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1982

Bruce Springsteen does his best Joe Montana in Haddonfield, New Jersey in 1982.

Photo: Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

“Corvette Winter,” Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1978

“Corvette Winter,” Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1978

“Bruce seemed to come to Haddonfield in a different vehicle each time. After his initial visit in that old Chevy pick-up truck, the next day, Sunday, he arrived in a slick ’60 Corvette. I think that car was his pride and joy. It was loaded, it was sleek, it ruled Route 9 and the New Jersey Turnpike. I imagined what it would be like to be Bruce, cruising in that ‘Vette up the Pike under that giant Exxon sign in the wee, wee hours, thinking up song ideas while listening to his favorite tunes in that bad-ass Corvette.” Frank Stefanko, Days of Hopes and Dreams

Photo: Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

New Jersey, 1978

New Jersey, 1978

Frank Stefanko used this photo as the cover of his book, Days of Hope and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen.

Photo: Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

“Rooster,” New Jersey, 1978

“Rooster,” New Jersey, 1978

Photo: Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Live at the Spectrum, Philadelphia, 1978

Live at the Spectrum, Philadelphia, 1978

Photo: Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

“The Football,” Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1982

“The Football,” Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1982

Bruce Springsteen does his best Joe Montana in Haddonfield, New Jersey in 1982.

Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

“Corvette Winter,” Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1978

“Corvette Winter,” Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1978

“Bruce seemed to come to Haddonfield in a different vehicle each time. After his initial visit in that old Chevy pick-up truck, the next day, Sunday, he arrived in a slick ’60 Corvette. I think that car was his pride and joy. It was loaded, it was sleek, it ruled Route 9 and the New Jersey Turnpike. I imagined what it would be like to be Bruce, cruising in that ‘Vette up the Pike under that giant Exxon sign in the wee, wee hours, thinking up song ideas while listening to his favorite tunes in that bad-ass Corvette.” Frank Stefanko, Days of Hopes and Dreams

Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

New Jersey, 1978

New Jersey, 1978

Frank Stefanko used this photo as the cover of his book, Days of Hope and Dreams: An Intimate Portrait of Bruce Springsteen.

Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

“Rooster,” New Jersey, 1978

“Rooster,” New Jersey, 1978

Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Live at the Spectrum, Philadelphia, 1978

Live at the Spectrum, Philadelphia, 1978

Photograph by Frank Stefanko/Morrison Hotel Gallery.

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