GOTEBORG, Sweden — The world’s largest anniversary celebration of a single filmmaker – Ingmar Bergman, born in 1918 – which was launched last year by the Ingmar Bergman Foundation, will open its 2018 program at the Göteborg Festival with several of his films in the screening schedule, seminars dealing with his work and special events during the Jan. 26-Feb. 5 festival in the southern Swedish city.
The Göteborg celebrations are fitting. “Ingmar Bergman was one of the greatest directors in film history,” says Jonas Holmberg, the Göteborg Festival’s artistic director.
Bergman was also honorary chairman of the Göteborg Film Festival from 1994 to his death in 2007.
“His name and blessing brought power and creative vitality to the event,” Holmberg added.
Bergman did not like to travel, so his work was mostly from the distance. But he contributed to the programming, wrote articles for Göteborg Fest publications and performed in films produced by the festival: “Bergman’s Voice,” “A Conversation with Ingmar Bergman” and “Ingmar Bergman: Intermezzo.” In 2004 he and the Festival launched the Ingmar Bergman International Debut Prize.
“In 1996 Bergman selected his 11 favorite films for a special festival program, an interesting and fascinating collection of his sources of inspiration. The only director in that collection still alive is Germany’s Margarethe von Trotta, who is currently working on a documentary of Bergman. She will be coming to this year’s Festival, having selected a film in the special program of Bergman favorites, as selected by international friends.
These include French actress Juliette Binoche (who selected “Scenes from a Marriage,” 1973), German director Margarethe von Trotta (“Hour of the Wolf,” 1968), Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (“Brink of Life,” 1958), and Polish director Agniezska Holland (“Fanny and Alexander,” 1983).
In 2016, the Swedish Film Institute and Swedish pubcaster SVT invited experienced Swedish writer-directors to make a six-minute short inspired by Bergman’s world, finishing the script during a stay at Bergman’s house on Fårø. The result – seven films by, among others, Tomas Alfredson, Liv Strömqvist, Pernilla August and Lisa Aschan – will be world-premiered in Göteborg’s Bergman Revisited program.
With the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra, the festival has produced A Musical Dreamplay with live music, video and light, which will take both musicians and audiences into Bergman’s universe. Music by, among others, Bach, Beethoven, Bruckner, and a new work by Jüri Reinvere, a longtime friend of Bergman and his then wife Käbi Laretei, will be conducted by Frank Strobel in a production by Arnbjörg Danielsen, Lene Juhl and Kasper Stouenborg.
Music was a passion for Bergman, who in 1975 directed a film from his own script based on Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.” The Göteborg Festival has organized a Magic Flute Sing Along, where the audiences are encouraged to sing with Tamino, Pamina, Papageno, Papagena. The Göteborg Opera’s tenor Olof Söderberg and pianist Lisa Fröberg will introduce, and singers from the Opera will join the live chorus.
The seminar A Century of Bergman: Bergman in Books, will present new publications by former Swedish bishop Caroline Krook and Jan Holmberg, head of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation, as well of a reading of excerpts from a new publication, Bergman’s “Working Dairies 1955-1974.” At the final party, audiences can play YouTube Chess against Swedish champion Hans Tikkanen.
The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award is given to “a newcomer, whose films deal with a “broad existential theme,” and works with a “dynamic or experimental sense of cinematic expressions.” Bergman said it was “an encouragement for young filmmakers to deal with important questions in a time when the film world mostly looks like a slaughter or a whorehouse.” Last year’s winner was German director Sandra Wollner’s “The Impossible Picture.”
Screening in Göteborg, the 2018 nominées are:
“Malila: The Farewell Flower.” Dir: Anucha Boonyawatana (Thailand)
“The Blessed.” Dir: Sofia Djama (Algeria)
“Dead Pigs.” Dir: Cathy Yan (China)
“Menina”. Dir: Christina Pinheiro (France)
“Ava”. Dir: Sadaf Foroughi (Iran)
“The Flower Shop.”Dir: Ruben Desiere (Belgium)
“Death of a Poetess.” Dir: Dana Goldberg (Israel)
“Microhabitat.” Dir: Jeon Go-woon (South Chorea).
But Bergman also has a larger connection to Göteborg: His impact, through personal acquaintance or his work, on so many of its attendees. This includes Göteborg artistic director Holmberg.
“Personally I have only met him once – we passed each other at the entrance of Stockholm’s Film House. But I have a strong Bergman memory, when I spent two weeks at his home on Fårö with my wife, who was expecting our first child. One morning I was walking on the beach, listening to his radio program about music on the headphones, and he ended with Bach’s “Double Violin Concerto in D Minor,” Holmberg recalls.
“Just at that moment, a flock of birds, probably more than 200, took off in front of me, the sky darkened, and that was when Bergman on the radio asked his famous question: ‘Where does music come from?’” Holmberg concluded.