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Interview: Lone Scherfig

An Educated Lady
By BRETT MICHEL  |  November 16, 2009


Born in Denmark in 1959, Lone Scherfig first gained international attention in 2000 with Italian for Beginners, a charming little film that won her the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. A couple of years later, she followed up with WilburWants to Kill Himself, her first English-language effort, filmed in Scotland and starring Adrian Rawlins and Shirley Henderson (who should be familiar to Harry Potter movie fans for their appearances as Harry's dad, James, and Moaning Myrtle, respectively). Wilbur didn't really get the attention it deserved (it's available on DVD; I'd recommend tracking a copy down), but her next film, the Danish-language comedy Hjemve, was shunned by critics and audiences in her native country, dooming it to never finding a distributor here in the States. But Fortune smiled upon her once again with the release of her drama based on Lynn Barber's memoir, An Education --which opened here in Boston last month and has been gaining award-season momentum. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Scherfig at the offices of Allied Integrated Marketing, which handles publicity for the film, when she passed through Boston before heading to the Toronto Film Festival. The following is an abridged version of our chat.

BM: I had seen you speak about Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself at the Boston Film Festival back in, probably, 2003, it must have been?
LS: Yeah, probably. Or 2004. I can’t remember. I wonder what I said! [Laughs.] I still like that film a lot. There’s something about it that I really like. The music is really beautiful!

BM: I was actually going to single that out! If there was anything I was disappointed with with this new film [An Education], it was that you didn't use the same composer…
LS: I couldn’t.

BM: Why couldn’t you?
LS: I’m the only Danish element in the film.

BM: You must've wanted to use the same composer.
LS: Well, I liked Paul Englishby [An Education's composer] very much. He's done the music to this one, and he's one I wanted to work with. But, oddly, when it came down to it, if you could only bring one person, which one will it be? And like, if I'm going to shoot a film in England again…and I think the composer is the most personal relationship, actually, that you have…even more than your assistant, or your DoP [Director of Photography], 'cause it's much harder to describe music. But Paul and I, we got along really well, and I think he's very sensitive, and it was fantastic to actually record at Abbey Road Studios! To have a reason to cross that street crossing [laughs], I felt really proud! And the train station, St. John's Wood, the subway station, has a little Beatles café and I loved it. So, I'm not complaining about Paul Englishby, but I do like that Norwegian/Danish composer very much, who did Wilbur [Joachim Holbek].

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