Lone Scherfig (b. 1959)

Danish director Lone Scherfig went on to international acclaim following her breakthrough with the Dogme 95 film Italian for Beginners.

Danish film director Lone Scherfig at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Photo: Gordon Correll (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Danish film director Lone Scherfig was born in Copenhagen in 1959 and trained at the Danish Film Academy. From the very beginning of her career, she has demonstrated her skill in conveying, in a subtle and humorous way, the tragedy and madness of ordinary people’s lives.

In Kaj’s fødselsdag (The Birthday Trip, 1990) the typical Dane, a romantic dreamer hiding behind his glass of beer, becomes involved in a very real clash between Polish and Danish culture. Scherfig’s most celebrated work, the ‘Dogme 95’ film Italiensk for begyndere (Italian for Beginners, 2000), subtly juxtaposes satire and excessive humour. The film received several awards and has become one of the most widely seen Danish films in Denmark. Når mor kommer hjem (On Our Own, 1998) is a tragicomical portrayal of the way children manage when left on their own; and the comedy Wilbur begår selvmord (Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, 2002) is at once tragic and lighthearted. Films such as An Education (2009), One Day (2011), The Riot Club (2014), and Their Finest (2016) have won international acclaim.

Scherfig has also directed a number of episodes of various successful Danish television series, including Flemming og Berit (1994), Taxa (1999), and Morten Korch (2000), as well as two episodes of the American TV series The Astronaut Wives Club (2015).


Further reading:

  • J. Sundholm et al., Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Cinema. (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2012).
  • Det Danske Filminstitut [The Danish Film Institute], Lone Scherfig