Lars von Trier’s production company, Zentropa, has been accused of having a systemic culture of “sexual harassment, degradation and bullying,” according to nine former employees, all of them women.
The allegations are directed primarily at Peter Aalbæk Jensen, Zentropa’s former CEO who founded the company with von Trier in 1992. The women spoke with Danish newspaper Politiken saying their workdays would include having their breasts groped and routine spankings, and those were among his less bizarre demands.
Particularly singled out, according to the report, were young female trainees, who were told by Jensen to fetch nipple clamps or, bizarrely, to vaccinate his pigs. Further sexually degrading acts were carried out at the company’s Christmas party, with Jensen allegedly handing out awards to the trainees who undressed the fastest or had the longest pubic hair.
According to another Danish newspaper, Dagbladet, spankings were one of Jensen’s preferred methods of punishment. His other favorite? Making trainees clean out his stables. These are not allegations, it should be noted. Jensen actually confirmed this.
Zentropa, now under its current CEO Anders Kjærhauge, released a statement announcing the good news that employees would no longer be spanked at work. Huzzah. However, Jensen responded to this rule change saying, “Believe me, I am already thinking about other demeaning ways to punish them. They will be lying on their knees begging for the spanking to be reinstated.”
Von Trier, who did once say that he empathizes with and understands Hitler, has not been named in these allegations, but was recently confirmed as the subject of Bjork’s barely concealed blind item about a Danish director who sexually harassed and bullied her, then branded her as “difficult.” Of Bjork’s accusations, Jensen defended himself and von Trier insisting “we were victims” of her.