NYFF 2018: Searching for Ingmar Bergman

Searching for Ingmar Bergman. Courtesy of TIFF.

The late Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s 100th birthday is celebrated with a new documentary, Searching for Ingmar Bergman.

In honor of what would be the Oscar nominee’s centennial birthday, director Margarethe von Trotta speaks with family members, Bergman’s actors, and Swedish filmmakers on the rise.  In doing so, we get a better idea of who Bergman was as a person and why he made the films he did.  What von Trotta seeks to examine are those themes that repeatedly came up, both in Bergman’s life and works.  We even get to visit those places that are dear to those works.

As far as Bergman’s life is concerned, von Trotta seeks to explore the life the filmmaker had while living in Germany.  Bergman and the Swedish authorities didn’t see eye to eye.  The work seems to reflect this period.  Viewers are taken on journey throughout Europe, including Sweden, Germany, Spain, and France.  Liv Ullmann, Gunnel Lindblom,
Julia Dufvenius are among the Bergman actresses who talk about working with the filmmaker.

Filmmakers and other colleagues such as Ruben Östlund, Olivier Assayas, and Mia Hansen-Løve speak of what it was like to work with the filmmaker.  Bergman was the quintessential filmmaker that Sweden had to offer.  For Swedish filmmakers to discuss his works, it also speaks to the impact that the filmmaker had on his home country.

It’s after the war in which Bergman found himself opening up as a filmmaker.  He had been preoccupied with the a religious conception of guilt.  He later turned to a focus on humanity.

Scenes of a Marriage became Bergman’s first attempt at adapting his own play into a feature film.  Bergman became this filmmaker who could find the blend between art house and commercial cinema.  It’s not an easy feat to accomplish by any means.

For all that other filmmakers and colleagues have to offer while clips are interspersed, it’s his sons who provide the best type of insight on his life.  They are the ones who lived with him and saw him frequently.  There’s no better insight than family members.  Whether or not they hold anything back for privacy reasons is hard to say.

Because of her personal ties to Bergman, von Trotta is the perfect person to direct this documentary.  It turns out that the director previously selected her for the jury for the European Film Academy in 1990.  Comments that the late filmmaker made about von Trotta’s acting work no doubt had a big impact on her life.

Ultimately, viewers can learn quite a bit about the Swedish filmmaker in viewing Searching for Ingmar Bergman.

DIRECTOR:  Margarethe von Trotta
CO-DIRECTORS:  Felix Moeller and Bettina Böhler
SCREENWRITER:  Margarethe von Trotta and Felix Moeller
FEATURING:  Liv Ullmann, Daniel Bergman, Ingmar Bergman Jr., Olivier Assayas, Ruben Östlund

Searching for Ingmar Bergman holds its US premiere at the 2018 New York Film Festival in the Retrospectives program.  Oscilloscope Laboratories will open the film on November 2, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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