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(photo by Per Arnesen)

Mads Mikkelsen was named Best Actor at Cannes for his portrayal of a teacher falsely accused of child abuse (photo by Per Arnesen)

THE HUNT (JAGTEN) (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012)
Scandinavia House
58 Park Ave. at 38th St.
Thursday, January 16, $10, 7:00
Series concludes January 22

After losing his job as a teacher and going through a difficult divorce, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) begins working at a kindergarten in a small, tight-knit community and starts dating a coworker, Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport), but his life quickly hits rock bottom when he is falsely accused of child abuse in Thomas Vinterberg’s harrowing drama The Hunt. Mikkelsen was named Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his deeply sensitive portrayal of a gentle man who suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs of virtually everyone in town immediately after little Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), the daughter of his best friend, Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen), claims that Lucas did bad things to her. Grethe (Susse Wold), the school administrator, doesn’t even give Lucas a chance to defend himself before he loses his job and is ultimately arrested, his only supporters being his son (Lasse Fogelstrøm) and his longtime friend Bruun (Lars Ranthe). Mikkelsen (Pusher, A Royal Affair, After the Wedding) goes from utter disbelief to quiet desperation to all-out rage as Lucas, an everyman who can’t believe what is happening to him, not understanding how nearly everyone has turned their back on him, many attacking him in public and private for something that he didn’t do. Dogme 95 cofounder Vinterberg (Dear Wendy, Festen), who cowrote the Cannes award-winning script with Tobias Lindholm (R, A Hijacking), expertly builds the tension as Lucas’s, and the town’s, growing paranoia threatens to explode. He personalizes the drama in a way that avoids blanket statements about child abuse and faulty and repressed memories while instead focusing on how a young girl’s lie can spiral horrifically out of control. The Hunt, which is on the Oscar shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film, is screening January 16 at 6:00 as part of the Scandinavia House series “Nordic Oscar Contenders,” which began January 8 with the Swedish entry for the Academy Awards, Gabriela Pichler’s Eat Sleep Die, and continues January 22 with Iceland’s Of Horses and Men, directed by Benedikt Erlingsson.

Nominated for one Academy Award: Best Foreign Language Film (Denmark)

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