Italian for Beginners

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Italian for Beginners
DVD cover
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Produced by Karen Bentzon
Gert Duve Skovlund
Peter Aalbæk Jensen
Written by Lone Scherfig
Maeve Binchy
Starring Anders W. Berthelsen
Anette Støvelbæk
Ann Eleonora Jørgensen
Music by Niels W. Gade (Non-original)
Cinematography Jørgen Johansson
Edited by Gerd Tjur
Release dates
  • 8 December 2000 (2000-12-08)
Running time
118 minutes
Country Denmark
Language Danish

Italian for Beginners (Danish: Italiensk for begyndere) is a 2000 Danish romantic comedy film written and directed by Lone Scherfig. The film stars Anders W. Berthelsen, Lars Kaalund and Peter Gantzler. The film was made by the austere principles of the Dogme 95 movement, including the use of hand held video cameras and natural lighting, and is known as Dogme XII. However, in contrast to most Dogme films which are harsh and serious in tone, Italian for Beginners is a light-hearted comedy. Made on a low budget of $600,000, the film ranks as the most profitable Scandinavian film in history.[1]

In May 2010, it was officially revealed that writer-director Scherfig "borrowed" her plot from the Irish novel Evening Class by Maeve Binchy. Zentropa has agreed to pay a non-disclosed compensation to Binchy.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Three women and three men, all singles, with stressful or unhappy lives, register for an Italian course in a Danish village. The class serves as a way of bringing these various residents of the town, each of whom is dealing with loss or pain, out of their loneliness and into interactions with other people. When the teacher suffers a heart attack during class and ends up dying, the six classmates hold the class anyway and eventually take a vacation to Italy.



The film won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, the Golden Spike Award for the best film of the year at the Seminci film festival in Valladolid, Spain, and the Audience Award at the Warsaw International Film Festival in Poland. Peter Gantzler won the award for Best Actor at the Seminci festival. The film also won the Gold Dolphin (Best Film) at the Festroia International Film Festival in 2001. It currently holds an 88% certified "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.


  1. ^ Wise, Damon, No Dane, No Gain, The Observer, October 12, 2003
  2. ^ Politiken May 17, 2010: Dansk succesfilm var kopi af irsk bog


External links[edit]