For the drink, see Submarino (beverage).

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Produced by Morten Kaufmann
Screenplay by Tobias Lindholm
Thomas Vinterberg
Based on Submarino
by Jonas T. Bengtsson
Starring Jakob Cedergren
Peter Plaugborg
Music by Kristian Eidnes Andersen
Thomas Blachman
Cinematography Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Edited by Valdís Óskarsdóttir
Andri Steinn Guðmundsson
Distributed by Sandrew Metronome
Release dates
  • 13 February 2010 (2010-02-13) (Berlinale)
  • 25 March 2010 (2010-03-25)
Running time
110 minutes
Country Denmark
Language Danish
Budget € 1.8 million

Submarino is a 2010 Danish drama film directed by Thomas Vinterberg, starring Jakob Cedergren and Peter Plaugborg. It is based on the 2007 novel Submarino by Jonas T. Bengtsson, and focuses on two brothers on the bottom of Danish society, with lives marked by violence and drug addiction. The film was produced by Nimbus Film. As a condition from the financier TV 2, half of the cast and crew were novices, which the director enjoyed as it gave an experience similar to his earliest films.

Submarino premiered in the main competition of the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.[1] The film won the 2010 Nordic Council Film Prize. It was met by positive reviews in Denmark and has been nominated for 15 Robert Awards.


The story of two brothers who lose track of each other after an unstable childhood until they meet up again in prison is the focus of former ‘Dogme’ director Thomas Vinterberg’s film based on a book by Jonas T. Bengtsson, a Danish novelist celebrated for his unflinching realism. The film’s title refers to a method of torture known as ‘submarino’ in which the target’s head is held under water to just before the point of drowning.

Nick and his younger brother have grown up in terrible circumstances: their childhood was marked by poverty, abuse and an alcoholic mother until the family was torn apart by tragedy. Nick is now thirty-three and has just been released from prison. He’s a man who knows what he wants: to train hard and drink hard in order to stand up against a hard world. A bodybuilder, he lives in a dilapidated hostel on the outskirts of Copenhagen. His brother is a junkie and a single father for whom only two things count in life: his daily fix and a better life for his six-year-old son, Martin. Reason enough for him to deal in heroin.

The brothers may live separate lives in grim Copenhagen, yet they are somehow searching for each other. What binds them is their mutual struggle for a life worth living. Occasionally their paths cross, but they only really find each other in prison. And that’s almost too late for them. —Berlinale



In June 2008 it was announced that Thomas Vinterberg would adapt Jonas T. Bengtsson's novel which had been well received by the Danish media the year before. Submarino was launched as one of four films on which Nimbus Film would spend the 1.4 million kroner they recently had been granted from the European Union's MEDIA Programme.[2] The film was made without support from the Danish Film Institute. Instead it received public funding through the broadcaster TV 2, whose condition for providing the money was that half of the cast and production crew would be first-timers. Vinterberg thought the condition helped the film's authenticity and likened the experience to his very earliest works: "That eagerness, energy, whole-hearted devotion from people starting a career was amazing. I had been missing this from when I did my graduation film at the Danish Film School, prior to Dogma. I enjoyed that."[3] Feature-film debutants included the cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen, the scriptwriter Tobias Lindholm and the stage actor Peter Plaugborg who played Nick's brother. The budget was around 1.8 million euro.[4]


Ebbe Iversen rated Submarino four out of six in Berlingske Tidende. Iversen wrote that Vinterberg has "shaped his film as fierce social realism almost totally exposed for the glimpses of humour that make a miserable life easier to bear in leading social realists like Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. Submarino is harder and more brutal, but, behind its harsh facade, carried by sympathy for the characters, and it is first and foremost created with a completely fearsome consistency, which one hasn't seen the like of in Thomas Vinterberg since The Celebration."[5] Peter Nielsen of Information was even more positive. He thought the story and subject by themselves were strong enough to make an excellent film, and continued: "but what elevates Submarino into a great work of art, is the symbolic redemption of the serious material. You see it in the ritual opening scene, and you see it several times underway in a tight symbology, which escorts and underpins the story."[6] The film failed to reach a large audience during the theatrical run and had only 46,000 admissions in Denmark.[7]

Submarino was Denmark's candidate for the 2010 Nordic Council Film Prize, which it won.[8] Jakob Cedergren was nominated for the Best Actor prize at the 23rd European Film Awards.[9] On the national level, the film was nominated for 15 Robert Awards, voted by members of the Film Academy of Denmark, and four Bodil Awards, voted by domestic film critics.[10][11]

Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Bodil Awards Best Film Thomas Vinterberg Nominated
Best Actor Jakob Cedergren Nominated
Peter Plauborg Nominated
Best supporting actor Gustav Fischer Kjærulff Nominated
Best supporting actress Patricia Schumann Won
European Film Awards Best Actor Jacob Cedergren Nominated
Nordic Council Nordic Council Film Prize Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm and Morten Kaufmann Won
Robert Awards Best Film Morten Kaufmann and Thomas Vinterberg Nominated
Best Actor Jakob Cedergren Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Gustav Fischer Kjærulff Nominated
Peter Plaugborg Won
Best Supporting Actress Patricia Schumann Nominated
Best Director Thomas Vinterberg Nominated
Best Screenplay Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg Nominated
Best Cinematography Charlotte Bruus Christensen Nominated
Best Production Design Torben Stig Nielsen Won
Best Costumes Margrethe Rasmussen Won
Best Make-Up Bjørg Serup Nominated
Best Editing Valdís Óskarsdóttir and Andri Steinn Guðmundsson Nominated
Best Sound Design Kristian Eidnes Andersen Nominated
Best Music Thomas Blachman and Kristian Eidnes Andersen Won
Best Original Song Agnes Obel for "Riverside" Won


  1. "60th Berlin International Film Festival: Programme". Retrieved 16 October 2010.
  2. Ritzau (2008-06-18). "Vinterberg filmatiserer dansk succesroman". Berlingske Tidende (in Danish). Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  3. Pham, Annika (2010-02-12). "Interview with Thomas Vinterberg". Cineuropa. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  4. Cowie, Peter (2010-04-19). "Berlinale 2010 Co-Production Market – Case Study: Submarino – Diving for Good Stories". Cineuropa. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  5. Iversen, Ebbe (2010-03-24). "4 stjerner til Thomas Vinterbergs nye film". Berlingske Tidende (in Danish). Retrieved 2010-11-05. ... har Thomas Vinterberg formet sin film som benhård socialrealisme næsten totalt blottet for de glimt af humor, der gør et usselt liv lettere at bære hos førende socialrealister som Ken Loach og Mike Leigh. »Submarino« er hårdere og mere brutal, men bag sin barske facade båret af medfølelse med personerne, og den er først og fremmest skabt med en fuldstændigt frygtindgydende konsekvens, som man ikke har set magen til hos Thomas Vinterberg siden »Festen«.
  6. Nielsen, Peter (2010-03-24). "Alt kan føres tilbage til begyndelsen". Information (in Danish). Retrieved 2010-11-06. men det, der løfter Submarino til et stort kunstværk, er den symbolske forløsning af det alvorlige stof. Man ser det i den rituelle åbningsscene, og man ser det flere gange undervejs i en stram symbolik, der ledsager og underbygger fortællingen.
  7. Ritzau. "Vinterbergs fiasko får oprejsning". Berlingske Tidende (in Danish). Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  8. Roxborough, Scott (2010-10-20). "Thomas Vinterberg's 'Submarino' Wins Scandinavia's Top Film Award". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  9. "Nominations for the 23rd European Film Awards". European Film Academy. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  10. Christensen, Claus (2010-12-20). "Robert forbigår dansk Oscar-kandidat". (in Danish). Filmmagasinet Ekko. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  11. Staff writer (2011-01-20). "De Bodil-nominerede film". (in Danish). Retrieved 21 January 2011.
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