Nine women allege sexual harassment at Lars von Trier's film studio


Founded by Lars von Trier (pictured) and  Peter Aalbæk Jensen in 1992, Zentropa is Scandinavia's largest film production company.
Founded by Lars von Trier (pictured) and Peter Aalbæk Jensen in 1992, Zentropa is Scandinavia's largest film production company.PHOTO: MAGNOLIA PICTURES

LONDON (Guardian) - Nine women have come forward with stories of alleged sexual harassment, degradation and bullying at Zentropa, a Danish film studio co-founded by director Lars von Trier.

In accounts given to Danish newspaper Politiken , the women - all former employees - spoke of an "ingrained" culture of abuse, with several saying that their experience prompted them to stop working in the film industry altogether.

Many of the allegations centred on Zentropa's co-founder and former chief executive Peter Aalbæk Jensen, with women claiming that he would grope their breasts, and ask them to lie across his knee and "get spanked".

Further sexually degrading acts were carried out at the company's Christmas party, with Mr Jensen allegedly handing out awards to the trainees who undressed the fastest.

Mr Jensen, who stepped down as CEO last year and still owns 25 per cent of the company with von Trier, said he had no recollection of the alleged incidents but added that they "probably happened". However, he denied that there was systemic harassment.

"I'll say this: I have no interest in submission and degradation. I'm interested in testing boundaries, especially where the red line is," he added.

"There have been plenty of times when I've been over the top or gone too far. And I stand by that fully. But the question is whether you are an adored leader or not. And I am an adored leader," Mr Jensen said.

Founded by von Trier and Mr Jensen in 1992, Zentropa is Scandinavia's largest film production company, and has a reputation for producing challenging arthouse works.

Many of von Trier's films, including Antichrist , Melancholia and Nymphomaniac, were produced by the studio.

Von Trier was last month forced to deny claims that he had sexually harassed musician Bjork on the set of his 2000 drama Dancer In The Dark. She had accused an unnamed Danish director of touching her on the set of a film, and then "sulked and punished" her when she did not respond to his advances.

"That was not the case. But that we were definitely not friends, that's a fact," the director said.