Cheat Sheet: Susanne Bier


Susanne Bier

Date of Birth:

15th April 1960

Place of birth:

Copenhagen, Denmark

Special moves:


Films include:

Brothers, After The Wedding, Things We Lost in the Fire, In a Better World

What you probably already know

Ha, erm, probably not that much. Those of you who are aware of the wonderful world of Susanne Bier probably know that she won this year’s Foreign Language Oscar as well as the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film for her brilliant film In A Better World (which is going to get released over here this August, YAY). You might have also heard the whispers that gradually-decomposing saucepot Pierce Brosnan is starring in a rom-com helmed by some obscure directing-lass. SUSANNE BIER IS THAT OBSCURE DIRECTING LASS YOU IGNORANT URCHINS. The film is called All You Need Is Love, and it will apparently be a fairly light-hearted, love and loss affair that centres on a Danish family. Though Pierce himself isn’t especially Danish (or is he? SEE NEXT WEEK’S CHEAT SHEET EXPOSE), Bier’s pretty used to working with screenplays that slip in and out of various languages, so we’re not especially worried.

What you probably don’t know

Miss Bier grew up in Copenhagan, and studied Art and Architecture at Jerusalem University. She was accepted into the National Film School of Denmark in 1985 (if you’re finding it difficult to remember, it’s the same year that Playboy stopped stapling its centrefolds) and went on to direct various bits and bobs in Sweden and Denmark.

Her first proper good success was rom-com The One And Only – which ended up being one of the top three grossing films in Denmark in the 90s. She went on to direct the critically acclaimed Brothers: a tale of a family torn apart and brought together by tragic circumstance – and Bier had found her niche. Her subsequent films, After the Wedding, Things We Lost In The Fire and In A Better World were far, far darker than her rom-com roots, with shared themes of family trauma, bi-lingual characters and ambitious, sweeping settings.

Bier’s films explore grief, revenge, familial love and unbreakable bonds with style and verve, and star the most talented folk Denmark and Sweden have to offer. Any fan of Festen (all of you, we hope) will recognise the wonderful Ulrich Thomsen in a few of her productions (oh alright fine, he was in The World Is Not Enough too, but that’s far less classy-like) – in fact, Bier’s films are generally known as a show-case for the very finest in Danish and Swedish acting.

Susanne Bier quote:

“I think for me, casting is the key to making a good film. My main interest is on characters; from the beginning of working with the script I am totally engaged character development. Therefore, for me casting is the most important part of my filmmaking and I spend quite a lot of time on casting my films.”

What to say at a dinner party:

“What really amazes me is how Bier consistently manages to draw together threads from not only different view-points emotionally, but visually. Her plot-lines skim from country to country, from character to character, and yet as an audience we’re never lost, are we?”

What not to say at a dinner party:

“Hang on, isn’t that Elektra King’s head of security? LAD!”

Final thought:

It’s not often we get to showcase an jolly marvellous (not to mention vaguely influential) female director, so it’s worth sitting up and paying attention to Miss Bier. Her work is beautiful, urgent and amazingly personal, so if you’re not familiar get your bums down to In A Better World this August and sort your life out.

About The Author