The Kindness of Strangers

Clara arrives in wintry New York with her two sons on the back seat of her car. The journey, which she has disguised as an adventure for her children’s sake, is soon revealed to be an escape from an abusive husband and father. He is a cop, and Clara is desperately trying to elude his attempts to pursue her. The three have little more than their car, and when this is towed away, they are left penniless on the street. But the big cold city shows mercy: in their search for refuge, the family meets a selfless nurse named Alice who arranges beds for them at an emergency shelter. While stealing food at a Russian restaurant called ‘Winter Palace’, Clara meets an ex-con, Marc, who has been given the chance to help the old eatery regain its former glory. The ‘Winter Palace’ soon becomes a place of unexpected encounters between people who are all undergoing some sort of crisis and whom fate has now brought together. With a keen eye for character, Lone Scherfig explores human behaviour in extreme conditions. She depicts the harshness of life in the urban jungle, but she also demonstrates what can grow when strangers approach each other in friendship and with an open heart.
by Lone Scherfig
with Zoe Kazan, Andrea Riseborough, Tahar Rahim, Caleb Landry Jones, Jay Baruchel, Bill Nighy
Denmark / Canada / Sweden / Germany / France 2019 English 112’ Colour World premiere


  • Zoe Kazan (Clara)
  • Andrea Riseborough (Alice)
  • Tahar Rahim (Marc)
  • Caleb Landry Jones (Jeff)
  • Jay Baruchel (John Peter)
  • Bill Nighy (Timofey)


Written and Directed by Lone Scherfig
Cinematography Sebastian Blenkov
Editing Cam McLauchlin
Music Andrew Lockington
Sound Design Hans Møller
Sound Greg Chapman
Production Design Carol Spier
Costumes Louize Nissen
Make-Up Sarah Craig McEathron
Assistant Director Reid Dunlop
Casting Deirdre Bowen
Production Managers Stephen Traynor, Kristina Kornum
Producers Malene Blenkov, Sandra Cunningham
Co-Producers Patrick Ryborn, Peter Nadermann, Charles de Rosen
Co-Production Unlimited Stories Stockholm
Nadcon Film Köln
D'Artagnan Paris

Lone Scherfig

Born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1959, she began directing commercials and television films. Her debut feature film, The Birthday Trip, screened in the 1991 Panorama. Her Dogma 95 film, Italian for Beginners, premiered in the Berlinale Competition, won the Silver Bear among other awards, and brought her international renown. After her first English-language film, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, also premiered at the festival, she returned to Berlin in 2009 with An Education. Her adaptation of the bestselling novel One Day became an international blockbuster in 2011.


1998 On Our Own 2000 Italiensk for begyndere (Italienisch für Anfänger) 2002 Wilbur begår selvmord (Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself) 2007 Just Like Home 2009 An Education 2011 One Day (Zwei an einem Tag) 2014 The Riot Club 2016 Their Finest (Ihre beste Stunde) 2019 The Kindness of Strangers

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019