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Reporting on movies, film festivals, film production, premieres, movie events, industry trends and plays from around the world

Global Film Village: Bergman Re-defined

photo by Marc Halperin 

by Marla Lewin

One of the most interesting documentaries I saw at Cannes 2010 is My Films Are My Mistress by Stig Bjorkman. A compilation of backstage moments and interviews with master director Ingmar Bergman. The film is interspersed with comments from Martin Scorsese , Woody Allen and many other great directors speaking about his style and the lessons they learned from his work.  Their interpretations of Bergman and his importance to world cinema, in a way made me sad.

I spoke with Stig Bjorkman after the screening, and mentioned that actress and friend Christa Fuller (wife of legendary director Sam Fuller) had sent her regards, and congratulated him on his film.

This is a deeply personal film based on his time with the Bergmans, both Igmar and Ingrid, along with cinematographer Sven Nyqvist, and Liv Ullman.  Stig shows Ingmar Bergman’s talent for working with actors to ensure that their performances are true to his vision and word. This is not improvisation. Each scene is rehearsed, ensuring that lines and movement are perfect so that they will work within his overall vision. Stig shows us the preparation for a pivotal scene in Cries and Whispers with the actresses in white gowns framed against the brilliant red of the set.

Everything is choreographed. Thus the words take on a monumental significance because we are captivated by the image at the same time as we are riveted by what is being revealed of the actions and motivations of these characters. Few directors have ever achieved the look and feel of a Bergman film coupled with stories that touch our souls and remain with us.

We spent time with Liv Ullmann several years ago when she was honored by the Palm Springs International Film Festival. It was then that I learned that my husband Marc had distributed Fanny and Alexander which won several Academy Awards. They had a lively discussion of that film and the state of foreign film in the United States.  Liv shared how her latest film was an homage to Scenes from a Marriage. She spoke of her long relationship and fondness for Igmar, who was both her mentor and love.

After seeing this film,  I want to see all his films again and am thankful that we are able to do that because of home video and preservation efforts. That is what film festivals do best as they expose us to master works through their curation and point us in a new direction. Cannes, Telluride and a few other festivals have taken the place of the vanished repertory theatres that were responsible for creating generations of filmgoers that appreciate the work of the masters who established the techniques and tools that we often take for granted. We had a discussion on the beach the other night with a few filmmakers and one said that we all owe Quentin Tarantino a debt of gratitude because with his knowledge of these tools. When he choose to break these rules in Pulp Fiction they were done for a reason and their impact was felt by the audience immediately.

After experiences like these at Cannes one realizes how much Bergman, Fellini, Kurasowa, and Truffaut and other masters are missed. Still we feel so honored to be watching each day the latest premieres of the latest auteurs, such as Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, Woody Allen, Tavernier and so many others along with newer talent like Doug Liman.

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About MarlaLewinGFV

Lewin Marla
(Global Film Village)

Marla is a producer, playwright, screenwriter, publicist and now a journalist. She attends 12 to 20 film festivals per year. She has spoken on filmmaking at many festivals including Cannes and SXSW.


Los Angeles

United States

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