by director Lone Scherfig
Just a few days ago, at the New York premiere of One Day, I went to our film with an audience for the first time. The film opens at dawn and ends at dusk, but in-between we captured more than twenty years with Emma and Dexter, Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. We were meticulous with the myriad details, colours, music, and locations, but our aim was always for something simple, effortless and warm.
Anne Hathaway had not yet seen the film with an audience either. But, after beaming on the red carpet, she sneaked out, preferring to watch the film on a day where she was not the focus of attention. I understood her flight but I sat there and wished she hadn’t missed all the laughter in the room when Emma’s humour makes Dexter melt. Later, when the story takes an unexpected direction, I wish Anne had felt the concentration and compassion in the cinema. The good news is that she plans to sneak back in soon to see the film on a screen while surrounded by fellow film lovers.
Jim Sturgess reacted differently. He did attend the screening but to him it still felt like an album of snapshots from the wildly intense summer we spent shooting it. Those days were filled with constant challenges and new locations. From steaming night clubs to a relaxed Parisian sunset. From mountain climbing to skinny dipping. He and Anne both worked very hard on One Day, full of respect for each other and for David Nicholls’ book and script.
I was too alert to see the forest for trees. For the first time I was no longer able to change anything. I tried to remind myself that filmmaking should be an act of generosity and that it was time to savor the joy of giving—or at least the popcorn. And that I shouldn't run to the projection room and try to make improvements, but now have to let the film get a life of its own. Like Jenny in An Education, I knew that the first time can only happen once, but still I didn't manage to relax and celebrate until Elvis Costello started singing at the end.
So none of us managed to really see the film that night.
The next day I got an unexpected gift. A friend told me that on her walk home, she and her long time husband practiced the kiss from our poster on the sidewalk.