The Danish/Canadian contemporary drama was backed by Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

Dieter Kosslick who will steer the Berlinale for the last time in 2019 said Scherfig’s “feel for characters, strong emotions and subtle humour promises a wonderful start to the festival.”

Lone Scherfig said: “I am truly honoured that Dieter Kosslick has selected our film to celebrate such a festive and important evening. It will be a great joy to watch it for the first time alongside the renowned Berlinale audience.”

The top Danish writer/director will return to the Berlinale where several of her previous films have screened in the past, from her debut feature The Birthday Trip, shown at the Panorama 1990, to her breakthrough film Italian for Beginners, winner of four awards including the Silver Bear in 2001, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, shown as a competition Special Screening in 2003, and her Oscar-nominated An Education, festival entry in 2016 as a Berlinale Special Gala.

Based on Scherfig’s own script, The Kindness of Strangers is a contemporary drama following a disparate ensemble of characters, all in their own way struggling to survive in a New York City winter, who find laughter, love and kindness in each other.

The stellar cast comprises Zoe Kazan, Tahar Rahim, Andrea Riseborough, Caleb Landry Jones, Jay Baruchel and Bill Nighy. Top crew members include cinematographer Sebastian Blenkov, Scherfig’s collaborator on Their Finest Hour and The Riot Club, and costume designer Louize Nissen (The Nile Hilton Incident, A War).

The film is produced by Malene Blenkov of Denmark’s Creative Alliance, with Canada’s Strada Films, in co-production with Sweden’s Unlimited Stories, Germany’s Nadcon, France’s D’Artagnan, Film i Väst, WDR/ARTE Grand Accord and ARTE France Cinéma, with the participation of The Danish Film Institute and Telefilm Canada, DR, Ontario Creates, Copenhagen Film Fund, the Swedish Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Entertainment One and Ingenious Senior Film Fund /Apollo Media.

World sales are handled by London-based Hanway Films. SF Studios will release the film in Scandinavia and Entertainment One in Canada.

Earlier this year, another film backed by Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Erik Poppe’s drama U-July 22, also screened at the Berlinale’s official competition.