For movie buffs, 2018 is a red letter anniversary. It’s been a decade since the release of the first Twilight film (!); 20 years since both The Big Lebowski and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas hit the screen; and a cool half century for 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, and Rosemary’s Baby. We’re celebrating 60 years since the birth of Tim Burton, 75 years of Robert de Niro, and a cool nine decades since Stanley Kubrick first came into the world. But everything pales in comparison to the centenary celebrations of one of the greatest filmmakers, directors and writers the world has ever known. This year – this July in fact – sees 100 years of the late, great Swedish national whose name will forever be associated with weirdly wonderful psychoanalytic, philosophical and metaphysical cinema. And, in his honour, the country of his birth is going all out, all over the world, to celebrate everything Ingmar Bergman…
And it’s no different here in Cyprus, where our local Swedish Embassy – who consider Bergman one of the country’s most important cultural assets – is putting on a series of screenings in the run-up to what would have been the director’s 100th birthday on July 14. Starting on May 16 and running until July 9, the festival will be taking place in Nicosia over the coming months: two locations, four screenings, and a total of seven films – all curated by renowned local film historian Doros Demetriou. Organised by the Cultural Workshop Ayion Omologiton in cooperation with Cynema Xanthis 3, the Cyprus Contemporary Film Centre, and the Pantheon Cinema, and supported by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden, the festival will bring Bergman to the fore. And not just for movie buffs, but also for those who have little to no knowledge of the silver screen…
“The main goal is to bring the work of Ingmar Bergman to the audience in Cyprus and celebrate his life and work,” explains Doros, who has a particular passion for the director’s works. “Bergman creates that inexplicable feeling you get when you communicate with a great a work of art; it’s almost metaphysical,” he reveals. Dysfunctional families, failed artists, an absent Almighty and our collective inability to communicate with each other are all pervasive themes in Bergman’s films, and Doros is proud to be part of such an international celebration of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
“There are some filmmakers in the history of cinema who, through their work, have advanced the art immeasurably. And Ingmar Bergman is right up there: one of the most innovative and, at the same time, accessible directors – a very difficult mixture to achieve! At first glance, his films may not be considered ‘easy’,” Doros continues, “but through specific and unique characteristics his work touches people all over the world.”
Among the seven films of the series, Doros suggests The Seventh Seal is probably the most accessible to audiences: dark fairytale elements accentuating the story of a crusader who encounters the personification of Death. Then there’s Wild Strawberries: widely-regarded as an iconic cinematic masterpiece. And even Saraband – Bergman’s final film; often criticised as not being among his best – is still head and shoulders above the majority of works from other directors; its compelling themes, intensity and discussion of existence ensuring the film is a classic.
But it’s Persona – the first in the series, showing at the Cultural Workshop Ayion Omologiton this Wednesday – which is, Doros suggests, the must-see Bergman. “Persona excites all the senses of the viewer – the photography is amazing; the plot plumbs the darkest rooms of the soul. I kind of envy people who haven’t ever seen Bergman’s films,” he adds, “because they will be very pleasantly surprised by the experience! His films speak about universal and accessible human questions and matters – there’s the subject of faith, of loneliness. In a general sense, his work examines the human condition; and this makes it, not cinema for the elite, but cinema for everyone. Yes, they may be dark, heavy and even difficult on some level – but his films are always enjoyable! The plots are not always happy, but they do leave you with a very real elation!”
Bergman 1918 – 2018
At the Pantheon Cinema and the Cultural Workshop Ayion Omologiton from May 16 to July 9. All screenings start at 8pm and are free of charge. For more information call 22 256782 or visit http://politistiko-ergastiri.org/en/