Susanne Bier

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Susanne Bier
Susanne Bier 2013 (cropped).jpg
Bier in 2013
Born (1960-04-15) 15 April 1960 (age 57)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Nationality Danish
Alma mater Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design,
Architectural Association in London,[1]
National Film School of Denmark
Occupation Director, writer, producer
Years active 1991–present
Spouse(s) Philip Zandén (1995-?; divorced)
Jesper Winge Leisner (?-present)
Children 2

Susanne Bier (Danish pronunciation: [susanə ˈbiɐ̯ˀ], born 15 April 1960) is a Danish film director best known for her feature films Brothers, After the Wedding, the Academy Award-winning In a Better World[2] and the TV miniseries The Night Manager. She is the first female director to win a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, an Emmy Award[3] and a European Film Award.

Early life[edit]

Susanne Bier was born in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Bier studied art and architecture at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and read architecture at Architectural Association School of Architecture in London before enrolling for the film direction course at the National Film School of Denmark from where she graduated in 1987.[4] De Saliges (1987), Bier's graduation film, won first prize at the Munich film school festival and was subsequently distributed by Channel Four.[5]

Finding immediate success in Denmark with her features Freud Flytter Hjemmefra (Freud's Leaving Home, 1990), Det Bli’r i Familien (Family Matters, 1993), Pensionat Oscar (Like it Was Never Before, 1995) and Sekten (Credo, 1997), her first large commercial success was The One and Only in 1999. A romantic comedy about the fragility of life, the film won a clutch of Danish Film Academy awards and established Bier's relationship with actress Paprika Steen. The film remains one of the most successful domestic films ever released in Denmark.

A sidestep from the easy going charm of Livet är en schlager (Once in a Lifetime, 2000), Elsker dig for evigt (Open Hearts, 2002) brought Bier's work to much wider international attention and acclaim. Acutely observed and beautifully written by Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen, the film is a perceptive and painful exploration of broken lives and interconnected tragedies. Made under Dogme 95 regulations, the film also marked a move towards a more minimalist aesthetic.

Since the completion of Open Hearts, Bier's reputation has continued to ascend with the harrowing Brødre (Brothers, 2004) and the emotionally engaging Efter Brylluppet (After the Wedding, 2006), which was nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the 2007 Academy Awards. After her first American film, Things We Lost in the Fire (2008) starring Benicio del Toro and Halle Berry, Bier went on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film for In a Better World (2010).[6]

In 2012, she returned to romantic comedy with local Danish smash-hit Den skaldede frisør (Love is All You Need) (2012) starring Trine Dyrholm and Pierce Brosnan. And in 2014, she directed her second American feature, dark romantic drama Serena starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and shortly after followed up with Danish drama A Second Chance starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Maria Bonnevie.

Also a maker of shorts, music videos and commercials, Bier's films typically meditate on pain, tragedy and atonement.

In 2013 she was a member of the jury at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.[7]


Bier has been praised as being a director capable of making films that appeal to an international market. This is reflected by the fact that After the Wedding (2006) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and In a Better World (2010) went on to win the award in 2011.[8] And not least the international TV miniseries The Night Manager (2016) produced by BBC and AMC which received worldwide acclaim upon its premiere. It went on to receive 12 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, winning one for Susanne Bier's directing efforts and four Golden Globe-nominations and three wins.

Personal life[edit]

Bier has two children, Gabriel (born in 1989) and Alice Esther (born in 1995).[9] She lives with theatre producer and composer Jesper Winge Leisner.[10]



Freud's Leaving Home (Freud flytter hjemmefra...) (1991)
  • 1992 Angers European First Film Festival
    • Audience Award: Feature Film
    • C.I.C.A.E. Award
  • 1992 Creteil International Women's Film Festival
    • Grand Prix
  • 1992 Guldbagge Awards
    • Best Director (Nominated)[11]
  • 1991 Montréal World Film Festival
    • Montréal First Film Prize – Special Mention
Brev til Jonas (1992)
  • 1993 Robert Festival
    • Best Short/Documentary (Årets kort/dokumentarfilm)
Family Matters (Det bli'r i familien) (1994)
  • 1994 Rouen Nordic Film Festival
    • ACOR Award
    • Audience Award
Like It Never Was Before (Pensionat Oskar) (1995)
  • 1995 Montréal World Film Festival
    • FIPRESCI Prize: Official Competition
The One and Only (Den eneste ene) (1999)
  • 2000 Robert Festival
    • Best Film (Årets danske spillefilm)
  • 2000 Bodil Awards
    • Best Film (Bedste danske film)
Open Hearts (Elsker dig for evigt) (2002)
  • 2002 Toronto International Film Festival
    • International Critics' Award (FIPRESCI) – Special Mention
  • 2003 Bodil Awards
    • Best Film (Bedste danske film)
  • 2002 Lübeck Nordic Film Days
    • Baltic Film Prize for a Nordic Feature Film
  • 2003 Robert Festival
    • Audience Award
  • 2003 Rouen Nordic Film Festival
    • Press Award
Brothers (Brødre) (2004)
  • 2005 Boston Independent Film Festival
    • Audience Award: Narrative
  • 2005 Creteil International Women's Film Festival
    • Audience Award: Best Feature Film
  • 2004 Hamburg Film Festival
    • Critics Award
  • 2005 Skip City International D-Cinema Festival
    • Grand Prize
  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival
    • Audience Award: World Cinema – Dramatic
After the Wedding (Efter brylluppet) (2006)
  • 2007 Festroia International Film Festival
    • Jury Special Prize
  • 2006 Film by the Sea International Film Festival
    • Audience Award
  • 2006 Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival
    • Audience Award
In a Better World (Hævnen) (2010)
Love is All You Need (Den skaldede frisør) (2012)
  • 2013 Robert Festival
    • Audience Award: Comedy[12]
The Night Manager (2016)


  1. ^ "Susanne Bier". Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Piil, Morten (2005). Danske filminstruktører (in Danish). Copenhagen, Denmark: Gyldendal. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-87-02-02981-9. 
  3. ^ Schauser, Søren (12 November 2016). "I Always Fall a Bit in Love With My Characters". (in Danish). Berlingske. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  4. ^ Wood, Jason (2006). Talking Movies: Contemporary World Filmmakers in Interview. Wallflower Press. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-1-904764-90-8. 
  5. ^ Wood, Jason. Talking Movies: Contemporary World Filmmakers in Interview. London: Wallflower Press, 2006. Print. p. 3-13
  6. ^ "Oscar-Nominated Susanne Bier Remaking French Thriller 'Rapt'". 23 February 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. [dead link]
  7. ^ "The International Jury 2013". Berlinale. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Coyle, Jake (28 February 2011). "Denmark's 'In a Better World' wins foreign Oscar". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 1 April 2017. 
  9. ^ "Susanne Bier Biography". IMDB. 
  10. ^ "Director Susanne Bier and husband Jesper Winge Leisner". 
  11. ^ "Freud flyttar hemifrån (1991)". Swedish Film Institute. 17 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "Awards for Susanne Bier". IMDB. IMDB. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 


  • Wood, Jason (2006). Talking Movies: Contemporary World Filmmakers in Interview. London, UK: Wallflower Press. pp. 3–13. 

External links[edit]