Molly Malene Stensgaard "Dialogue with the Audience"



Danish film editor who is best known for her work on highly regarded latest films of Lars von Trier - Idiots, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Melancholia, Nymphomaniac or The House That Jack Built. She was nominated for European Film Awards as an European Editor for Melancholia in 2011.

I’m a storyteller. My tools are filmic. Images, sound, music. Human expression, words, pace, dynamics. I’m in dialogue with the audience. With their brain and with their heart. I seek to create filmic moments on screen. Moments that feel truthful, authentic and moments that feel lifted and sometimes magic.

Molly Malene Stensgaard

Molly Malene Stensgaard was born in Copenhagen, where she graduated in film editing from the prestigious Danish Film School. Her work as an editor is tied with Lars von Trier from the very beginning of her career. Their first co-operation was on critically acclaimed eight-episode Danish television mini-series The Kingdom (1994-1997) shortly after Stensgaard finished film school. The show follows a number of characters, both staff and patients, as they encounter bizarre phenomena, both human and supernatural. It has been edited to film version which was screened also in Karlovy Vary International Film Festival where Trier got the prize as Best Director. The Kingdom was followed by The Idiots (1998) - first film which Trier made in compliance with the Dogme 95 Manifesto, and is also known as Dogme #2. The Idiots is among the first films to be shot entirely with digital cameras. Filming was handheld and wireless, so the cameraman could move freely - he also improvised.

Dancer in the Dark (2000) was also shot with a handheld camera, and was somewhat inspired by a Dogme 95 look. Musical melodrama in which stars Icelandic musician Björk was premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. Among a lot of awards, Stensgaard got her first Danish Film Award for Best Editing. After Dancer in the Dark Trier together with Stensgaard did two much different films on the contrary of his earlier work - Dogville (2003) and Manderlay (2005). Both films were shot on an extremely minimal, stage-like set.

The next film which made Trier and Stensgaard together was Melancholia (2011) - science fiction drama about two sisters, one of whom is preparing to marry just before a rogue planet is about to collide with Earth. Melancholia was premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

Melancholia was followed by Nymphomaniac (2013). The film was originally supposed to be only one complete entry; but, because of its multiple hour length, von Trier made the decision to split the project into two separate films. "We knew from the beginning that there would be various versions. But we didn’t really work with that. We worked with one film, and that’s the film that is Lars’ version, the Director’s Cut. Then, after we’d worked with that for eight months, we used a month to do the shorter version. So it wasn’t really like trying to do different versions at once. We just did one film – a film that we really liked. A long film with a break, basically." said Stensgaard.

The world premiere of the uncut Volume I occurred on 16 February 2014 at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, while the uncut Volume II premiered at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. The world premiere of the Director's Cut took place in Copenhagen on 10 September 2014.

Their latest fim together is The House That Jack Built (2018) which follows Jack, a highly intelligent serial killer, over the course of twelve years, and depicts the murders that really develop his inner madman.As Trier said: "For many years I’ve made films about good women, now I did a film about an evil man."

First of all, I think that I with Lars share a sense of humour and have a lot of fun. And secondly, I think that Lars trusts my selection of the actors’ performance very much. That is the strongest base that we have – that we do agree a lot about the performances when we see them.Sometimes, when I look at the early work that I did with him, I can see that at that time it was like 80% intuition. That’s changed during the years, but I think for me it’s like a life-long second film school that’s been going on – because there are elements in storytelling and film in general that he’s just so extremely advanced in. So it’s possible to learn constantly from him.

Molly Malene Stensgaard

Apart the long-term co-operation with Trier, Stensgaard also edited other various fiction or documentary projects as In Your Hands (2004) by Annette K. Olesen (Golden Bear nomination from Berlinale), A Caretaker's Tale (2012) by Katrine Wiedemann premiered during Tallinn Black Nights, The Idealist (2015) by Christina Rosendahl (Special Mention from Torino Film Festival).

In 2015 she edited historical drama war film which was nominated to Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film - Land of Mine. The film is inspired by real events and tells the story of German prisoners of war sent to clear land mines in Denmark after World War II. It was also shown in the Platform section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. She also co-edited critically acclaimed documentary by Viktor Kosakovsky Aquarela (2018). Kossakovsky did not just want to film water. He wanted to give water the chance to tell its own beautiful, mysterious, yet urgent story on an epic journey from ocena to sky, as it constantly chnges moods. He filmed in 96 frames-per-second, discovering inventive new ways to shoot water in perilous conditions that cameras don´t like.


Stensgaard has also sat on the international jury at the Berlinale and has taught and mentored at the TorinoFilmLab, the Berlinale Talent Campus and the Binger Filmlab, in Amsterdam, also she was Comissioning Editor for Danish Film Institute from 2015 to 2019. Since 2018 she has been head of Feature Film Development at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR).