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Dogville - Preview

Preview by: Jack Foley

DOGVILLE, the latest slice of Dogma filmmaking from former Palme d'Or winner, Lars von Trier, was one of the undisputed highlights of this year's otherwise disappointing Cannes Film Festival.

Hotly-tipped to win the director a second Palme d'Or, it was surprisingly beaten to the accolade by Gus Van Sant's equally worthy, Elephant.

Dogville, however, stars Nicole Kidman, as the beautiful fugitive, Grace, who arrives in the isolated township of Dogville on the run from a team of gangsters.

With some encouragement from Tom, the self-appointed town spokesman, the little community agrees to hide her and in return, Grace agrees to work for them.

However, when a search sets in, the people of Dogville demand a better deal in exchange for the risk of harbouring poor Grace, and she learns the hard way that in this town, goodness is relative.

But Grace has a secret and it is a dangerous one. Dogville may regret it ever began to bare its teeth...

Denmark-born von Trier formerly won the Palme d'Or for his Bjork collaboration, Dancer in the Dark, and this three-hour long opus is a similarly challenging movie.

Produced by Zentropa, von Trier's production company, it heralds the first of a new trilogy, entitled US and A, a series of films which take place in America. It co-stars Stellan Skarsgård, the late Katrin Cartlidge, Paul Bettany, and Lauren Bacall.

Shot entirely in a studio with few props, (streets chalked on the studio floor and actors miming the opening and closing of doors), Von Trier's marks yet another approach to filmmaking by the director.

"You could say I'm experimenting with a new dogma formula," he told journalists at Cannes. "The idea was to concentrate solely on the characters, therefore it was logical to have this bare stage with theatrical backdrops."

Kidman admits she was unsure about whether the film would work but opted to jump on board because she had been a long-time admirer of von Trier's work.

She told a press conference: "I felt that it was either going to work or it wasn't going to work. It was like saying: 'Ok, I'm willing to take this journey with you because I admire you and I believe in your belief.'

"And, Lars had a very strong belief in the film working as a whole, without sets, without props. (...) But, I think that once you make that leap of faith, then, you're into it and you emotionally commit to it. And, you have to trust the director.

"The first week of filming was tricky; I rehearsed a week. It was two people getting to know each other, and I think Lars had preconceptions about me and I probably did about him.

"And, then, we went off walking in the forest and had a heart-to-heart one afternoon. We came out of it with the same, very pure commitment to each other, which is what I think you can offer as an actor to a director who you believe in.

"I am very committed to him and to his work, and (...) being part of his creative life."

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