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One Day

People In Film | Lone Scherfig

Lone Scherfig | The Number One Choice

Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig has a particular gift for blending deft comedy and insightful humanism; Roger Ebert once declared that she “loves human nature and would rather enjoy it than hurry it along with a plot. The pleasure of [Scherfig's work] is in spending time in the company of her characters.” Thus Scherfig was the perfect choice to take on One Day, the adaptation of David Nicholls' bestselling novel that details the lives and relationships of friends Emma and Dexter over the span of nearly 20 years. “You watch her films,” says One Day's producer, Nina Jacobson, “and you see how she has an incredible command of character and of performance, and of the intimate moments between people.” Scherfig was immediately drawn to Nicholls' story, explaining, “The wit of David’s writing appealed to me. But what compelled me was just how much of a real love story the piece is––and at a level you rarely come across.”

Lone Scherfig | More than Beginners’ Luck

Copenhagen-born Scherfig worked predominantly in television for 15 years before announcing herself on the world stage in 2000 with Italian for Beginners, the first Dogma '95 movie made by a woman. Though the movie conformed to Dogma's strict budgetary constraints and Spartan aesthetic guidelines––conceived by Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg to create spare, hard-to-watch movies––Italian for Beginners broke the mold by still managing to be a crowd-pleasing romantic comedy. Paradoxically, Dogma’s limitations freed her up and allowed her to have fun making the film. Looking back, she told Greenzine, “I had this dream: We'll have a very good time. If the film is complete trash, at least we'll have a very good time. We changed the script constantly. I wrote almost every day and every night. It's a very lively process and when you see the film, you can tell that it's not a very stiff film. You see people enjoying themselves.”

Lone Scherfig | An Honorary Scot

One Day begins in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh, where its protagonists, Dexter (Jim Sturgess) and Emma (Anne Hathaway), are students at the city's university. Interestingly, Scherfig is much more familiar with making movies in Scotland than in her native Denmark, and looks at it as a home away from home. Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, her follow-up to Italian for Beginners, was set in Scotland, with the film's dark humor a perfect match for the dour, deadpan Scottish comic sensibility. Wilbur, an offbeat romantic comedy about a suicidal kindergarten teacher who inherits a second-hand bookshop, was originally to be a Danish movie, but Scherfig told BBC Films, “I'm very glad we moved it to Scotland. It is a better setting for that story––there are better bookshops, more humor and better actors. ...Had it been a Danish film it would have been more modest, plain and perhaps a bit more superficial.” Scherfig also created the characters for Andrea Arnold's acclaimed drama Red Road––winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2006––which is set in Scotland's second city, Glasgow.

Lone Scherfig | Always Educational

While One Day starts off in Edinburgh, much of the action takes place further south in London, which was also the setting for Lone Scherfig's highly successful third feature, An Education. Based on Lynn Barber's memoir of first love, the 1960s period piece tells the story of Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a scholastically gifted 16-year-old who shuns her studies when she falls for David (Peter Saarsgard), a roguish charmer twice her age. The film won rave reviews when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. The Village Voice's Scott Foundas called it a “seemingly benign, classily directed [movie] that conceals a surprisingly tart, morally ambiguous center.” He was not alone in his appreciation, as the film earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Carey Mulligan) and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2010 Academy Awards.

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