Lone Scherfig has begun filming on her new project
by Vassilis Economou
- Formerly known as Secrets of the Russian Tea Room, this new and as yet untitled project boasts an international cast and is the director’s first Danish-produced film in over a decade
Filming for the new project by acclaimed Danish writer and director, Lone Scherfig (An Education [+see also:
film profile]) is already underway, with the first scenes shot in Toronto last month. Her new film, originally referred to as Secrets of the Russian Tea Room, but now known as The Kindness of Strangers, is her first Danish-produced film since her 2007 comedy, Just like Home. The Copenhagen-based company, Creative Alliance, also involved in this project, was co-founded by none other than Scherfig in 2013, alongside a number of other Danish directors and producers.
According to the producers, the film is “a modern-day fairy-tale full of laughs and romance”, that follows the lives of four individuals who are going through hard times and whose paths cross in a Russian restaurant in New York. It is a study of homelessness and tolerance, with the heroes ultimately going on to change each other’s lives.
The film boasts an international cast of A-listers. Award-winning British actor Bill Nighy, who previously worked with Scherfig in her latest WWII film, Their Finest [+see also:
interview: Lone Scherfig
film profile], will play Timofey, a grandson of Russian immigrants and owner of the opulent Russian restaurant in question; French actor Tahar Rahim plays Mark, a former convict who is now the restaurant manager; Caleb Landry Jones will play Jeff, an unemployed young man in desperate need of a job, and Jay Baruchel’s John Peter is a lawyer with low self-esteem but high-level ethics. Other key characters include Zoe Kazan who plays Clara, a young mother who tries to avoid her abusive cop husband, and Andrea Riseborough as Alice, an ER nurse who has found her true calling running an eclectic therapy group called “Forgiveness”.
Filming will move from Toronto, to New York and then to Copenhagen, the crew comprising Danish cinematographer Sebastian Blenkov, who also worked with Scherfig in her two previous films, experienced Canadian production designer Carol Spier (Eastern Promises [+see also:
film profile]), and costume designer, Louize Nissen (A War [+see also:
interview: Tobias Lindholm
film profile], Kon-Tiki [+see also:
film profile]). Last but not least, Canadian musician and composer Mark Korven (The Witch: A New-England Folktale) will take charge of the soundtrack.
Lone Scherfig’s project is a truly international co-production, involving Malene Blenkov for Creative Alliance, Sandra Cunningham and Robin Cass for Toronto-based Strada Films, D'Artagnan (France), Nadcon (Gemany), and Unlimited Stories (Sweden), in association with ARTE Grand Accord/WDR, DR, Ingenious Senior Film Fund, Copenhagen Film Fund, and Film i Väst. The project has also received support from the Danish Film Institute, Telefilm Canada, the Swedish Film Institute, and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond. London-based outlet Hanway Films, meanwhile, are handling international sales. There is no set release date as yet, but SF Studios will distribute the film in Scandinavia and Entertainment One in Canada.
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