Celebrating the Collaboration of Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman

Posted by Erik Luers on 12.5.2013


A scene from the documentary Liv & Ingmar

If you fancy yourself a fan of the late, great Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman, playing chess with Death and searching near and far for your alluring doppelganger, then chances are you’re counting down the days until the new documentary, Liv & Ingmar (NYFF50), opens here on December 13. If you fancy yourself a fan of actress Liv Ullmann (and we do, as our 2001 film retrospective celebrating her ouevre can attest), then you're also getting ready for next week; Ullmann reaches a milestone on December 16, turning 75 years of age. The doc, a selection at last year’s New York Film Festival, focuses on both the professional and personal lives of Ullmann and Bergman.

As Liv & Ingmar is sure to make you nostalgic for the films the two vigorously collaborated on, we at Film Society are here to keep the love going strong. In addition to the documentary’s week-long run, we will be screening nine of the Bergman/Ullmann collaborations discussed in the film. No mere add-on or companion piece, Liv & Ingmar: The Films is a series featuring some of the most celebrated films in the history of cinema. Feel free to take in the doc and then see the films it was inspired by.

The series will open with a 35mm print of Autumn Sonata, a Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Film, starring Ulmann and Ingrid Bergman. Declared one of the five best films of 1978 by Roger Ebert, both Ullmann and (Ingmar) Bergman received Oscar nominations for their work here. Cries and Whispers, an emotionally heart-wrenching and at times physically gruesome work, screens afterward, featuring distinct, Academy Award-winning cinematography by Sven Nykvist that deserves to be seen on 35mm. Face to Face, also shot by Nykvist, is featured in the series as well.


Liv Ullmann in Face to Face

Other highlights include Persona, the crème de la crème that is considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all time. "Bergman responded to the innovations of the international avant-garde and the French new wave, dramatizing an actress’s identity crisis as a crisis in cinematic representation," J. Hoberman once noted. "Godard acknowledged the older filmmaker’s masterpiece by swiping a bit in Weekend."

Max von Sydow, another familiar face in the Bergman canon, will also be well represented in the series with The Hour of the Wolf, The Passion of Anna and Shame.  "We understood each other," Sydow later remarked when discussing the director. "Whatever good has happened to me in my life regarding film and theater, my thanks go to him." Scenes From a Marriage, Bergman’s highly touted made-for-television piece, will also screen, as will its sequel, Saraband, which turned out to be the filmmaker’s final work.

Which films will you be seeing in our Liv & Ingmar series? Now's the chance to rediscover an old gem or take a chance on one of the artists' lesser known but just as impressive efforts. We look forward to you joining us for the celebration of two great friends.

Liv & Ingmar: The Films runs December 13  19 and the documentary Liv & Ingmar opens December 13 at Film Society of Lincoln Center.

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