South of Copenhagen is the Danish Hollywood; the site of Filmbyen Avedøre, home to around 20 TV and film companies. One of them is Zentropa, which was founded in 1992 by Peter Aalbæk Jensen and the director Lars von Trier. It is the company behind several award-winning cinema productions. Lars von Trier was born in 1956, and is one of the leading figures in the Danish film industry. His films are typically cryptic, symbolic narratives conveyed in an innovative cinematic idiom that is often seen as extremely challenging to the audience.
Lars von Trier has directed almost all of his films in English with an international film crew and foreign cast. Like his role model, Carl Th. Dreyer, he prefers the international to the national, which makes it all the more ironic that Trier's phobias make him loath to travel abroad. He is a global artist, but prefers to stay on home ground at his film studios in Avedøre, Denmark, the location of several of his major successes. His popular breakthrough came with the TV series Riget (aired as The Kingdom) in which Copenhagen University Hospital is haunted by evil spirits. His international breakthrough came in 1996 with the melodrama Breaking the Waves. Shot in Scotland, this film concerns a woman's suffering and self-sacrifice, a theme recurring in Dancer in the Dark, for which he was awarded the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. For the centenary of cinema in 1995, von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg created the "Dogme 95 Manifesto", a set of rules that imposed strict limitations on film-making which were intended to 'purify' the genre and spur the creativity of film directors. This resulted in ten Danish and a large number of foreign films. Trier continued to explore ground rules as a source of artistic impetus in films such as The Five Obstructions, which he co-directed with Jørgen Leth, the bold, stagey Dogville, and the magical horror film Antichrist.