Berlinale opens with ‘The Kindness of Strangers’
CGTN

The 69th Berlin Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale, kicked off Thursday with the screening of Danish director Lone Scherfig's film “The Kindness of Strangers”, one of the 17 films competing for the Golden and Silver Bear awards this year.

The film, a co-production by Denmark, Canada, Sweden, Germany and France, narrates a modern tale of ordinary people struggling to find help, hope and love. While every character is bothered by chaos in their own lives, they're still open to helping each other.

Set in New York City, the story begins when a young mother takes her two sons to flee her abusive husband. When they end up on the street in despair, the owner of a Russian restaurant offers them warmth and shelter. The heroine also gets help from other strangers who meet each other and discover liberation and hope.

Crew members attend the "The Kindness Of Strangers" premiere during the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Berlinale Palace in Berlin, Germany, February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Crew members attend the "The Kindness Of Strangers" premiere during the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Berlinale Palace in Berlin, Germany, February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Scherfig said at the press conference following the premiere that she felt an urgent need to respond to the current political and social turmoil around the globe in a positive way.

"I thought it would make sense to make a film that has light and hopefully leaves the audience with a sense of not just hope but also community," she said.

Scherfig, who produced the Oscar-nominated film “An Education” in 2009, is one of the seven female contenders at this year's Berlinale. It is the first time an A-list film festival sees a more than 40 percent share of women representation.

Members of the International Jury of the 69th Berlinale attend the "The Kindness Of Strangers" premiere. /VCG Photo

Members of the International Jury of the 69th Berlinale attend the "The Kindness Of Strangers" premiere. /VCG Photo

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Juliette Binoche, Oscar-winning actress and president of the jury for this year's Berlinale, said she welcomes such an unprecedented diverse line-up.

"I think that's a good step forward, 10 years ago was not like that," she told reporters. "Open minds – it's a good sign."

President of the International Jury Juliette Binoche attends the "The Kindness Of Strangers" premiere. /VCG Photo

President of the International Jury Juliette Binoche attends the "The Kindness Of Strangers" premiere. /VCG Photo

British producer, director and actress Trudie Styler, 65, who is also on the jury, said the Berlinale had long championed films by under-represented groups but that this year's line-up was "not only courageous but a big step forward".

The slogan for the 69th Berlinale is “The personal is political,” and with its opening film, it is aiming to set a friendly and optimistic tone for the 11-day event.

President of the International Jury Juliette Binoche, Festival director Dieter Kosslick and Host Anke Engelke (L-R) are seen on stage at the opening ceremony. /VCG Photo

President of the International Jury Juliette Binoche, Festival director Dieter Kosslick and Host Anke Engelke (L-R) are seen on stage at the opening ceremony. /VCG Photo

"Any film that emphasizes things that unite us instead of what divides us as human beings now is not only desirable, it's essential," German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) News reported, citing British actor Bill Nighy, who plays the role of Timofey, the eccentric owner of a Russian restaurant, in “The Kindness of Stringers”.

This year, the Berlinale runs from February 7 to February 17, and it is also the first major film festival to kick off in Europe every year. 

Source(s): AFP ,Xinhua News Agency