Dheeraj Akolkar: Liv & Ingmar

Liv Ullmann is a true film star and one of those, who can catch your attention, when she performs ”outside” the films in interviews. Her autobiographical book ”Changing” (1977) is highly praised among others by legendary American critic Roger Ebert (link below). In that she writes about her life and work with Ingmar Bergman, with whom she made a dozen films.

Indian director Dheeraj Akolkar has made a film, produced in Norway, about the two, told by Liv Ullmann and based on ”Changing”, love letters from Ingmar to Liv and (a bit) on his ”Laterna Magica”. Ullmann sits in and outside the house on Fårö, the island where Bergman and she lived together for five years and where several of his films are shot. Chaptered with words like Love, Loneliness, Rage, Longing, Friendship the film tells about ”the painful connection” between Liv & Ingmar, words expressed by the latter.

Unfortunately the director has decided to combine/connect her narration to clips from films like ”Persona”, ”Scenes from a Marriage”, ”Skammen” (Shame), ”Saraband” etc. So when she talks about their many tough confrontations, you see Erland Josephson and Ullmann in a scene, or Max von Sydow and Ullmann or… it makes it all sooo banal and tabloid, sentimentalising and reducing an extraordinary director’s extraordinary work with extraordinary actors to something one-dimensional. On top of that music is poured on the images like sugar on a cake, and love letters from Ingmar to Liv are read (by Samuel Fröler) in a tone that is unbearable.

Is it a puristic Nordic comment to a film that obviously is made for an American market? Maybe, luckily there are for other purists several great films about Bergman and his actors and actresses, including wonderful Liv Ullmann, about whom Bergman said, ”you are my Stradivarius”.

Norway, 2012, 85 mins.

http://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/liv-ullmann-face-to-face

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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