Thomas Vinterberg is the first filmmaker to win the prize twice.

Morten Kaufmann, Tobias Lindholm, Sisse Graum Jorgensen

Morten Kaufmann, Tobias Lindholm, Sisse Graum Jorgensen

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg has become the first filmmaker to win the Nordic Council’s Film Prize twice after The Hunt (Jagten) collected the $64,000 (DKK 350,000) award at a gala ceremony in Oslo’s Opera House.

Vinterberg, who also took the prize for Submarino in 2010, will share it with scriptwriter Tobias Lindholm and producers Sisse Graum Jørgensen and Morten Kaufmann of Zentropa Entertainments.

The jury commented: “Through the allegory of The Hunt, Vinterberg’s film explores how the individual can be persecuted even in a well-meaning and well-functioning society, when it suddenly turns on one of its own. 

“This remarkable story is carried by Mads Mikkelsen’s powerful performance, the striking score and haunting and beautiful imagery.”

Competition included Finnish director Simo Halinen’s Open Up to Me (Kerron sinulle kaiken), Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakúr’s The Deep (Djúpid), Norwegian director Dag Johan Haugerud’s I Belong (Som du ser meg) and Swedish director Gabriela Pichler’s Eat Sleep Die (Äta sova dö).

Denmark’s Oscar submission for the Best Foreign-Language Feature category, The Hunt was launched in competition at Cannes last year and collected three awards, including Best Actor for Mikkelsen in the lead. Vinterberg and Lindholm later won a European Film Award for the script.

The Hunt tells the story of a teacher (Mikkelsen) in a small provincial town whose life is turned upside-down after a young girl accuses him of abuse.

“Vinterberg’s finest work since The Celebration (Festen/1998),” said Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles, when he signed for US distribution.

Denmark’s TrustNordisk has so far licensed the film to 103 territories. When it was finally released in Denmark - six months after Cannes - it became this year’s best-grossing local film from 672,000 admissions.