The Swedish premiere of Stig Björkman’s documentary on Ingrid Bergman (Aug 29, 1915 – Aug 29, 1982), “Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words” (Jag är Ingrid) took place in Stockholm on Aug 24 after its world premiere at Cannes in May. On hand were the grown children of Ingrid Bergman: Pia Lindström and Isabella, Roberto and Isotta Ingrid Bergman, united in Stockholm for the first time. Their mother would have turned 100 years old on Aug 29. Stockholm is celebrating this centennial anniversary in grand style beginning with the screening of Björkman’s moving tribute.
Many of Sweden’s film personalities were seated for the premiere in the beautiful “Royal Dramatic Theatre” (Dramaten) where Ingrid Bergman made her audition and was accepted at age 18 for the theater school. Bergman lived only a few houses down from the theatre on Strandvägen 3. Björkman told the illustrious guests that she was warned that she could never return to the school for accepting a part in a film. She was in too much of a hurry, said Björkman, to get on with her career.
Liv Ullmann, who co-starred with Ingrid Bergman as daughter and mother in Ingmar Bergman’s “Autumn Sonata” (1978), was on hand to present the film and provided humorous anecdotes of working with both “the genius” (Ingmar) and “the artist” (Ingrid). She recalled that Ingrid disagreed with Ingmar about a scene she was to play with Liv. She felt that it was not authentic that she would have comforted her daughter who profusely complained about her famous mother not taking an interest in her and maintained that she would have slapped her. But Ingmar had his way, explained Ullmann. Liv appears in the film with Sigourney Weaver who worked in the theater with Ingrid Bergman.
Alicia Vikander, a top Swedish actress in many of today’s current films, was also on hand for the Swedish premiere for a few days. She enjoys almost the same press notoriety that Ingrid Bergman experienced in her days in Hollywood. Vikander is the voice of Ingrid in the documentary reading passages from Bergman’s diary.
Isabella Rossellini came a few days earlier to Sweden to partake in a four-day special event in Ockelbo at WiJ, a botanical garden for biodynamic cultivation tended by her good friend Lars Krantz. Rossellini performed from her successfully acclaimed series “Green Porno” and helped to arrange a drive in movie screening of “Casablanca”(1942).
Eva Dahlgren, one of Sweden’s most talented vocalists, did some of the Super 8 filmmaking in the film, produced by Stina Gardell and Mantaray Film. Dahlgren perfomed the theme song she wrote “Filmen om oss” to “Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words”. Oscar winning Michael Nyman wrote the film score.
Many of the spectators at the Royal Dramatic Theatre including Isabella Rossellini revealed they were in tears at times during the screening of the film, which includes dozens of rare photographs and actual films that Ingrid made during her life on the sets of films and with her children. We learn from the film that Ingrid was a courageous woman and role model who broke cultural barriers in Hollywood, divorced her first husband, moved to Italy to enter into a new marriage and chose not to live with her children. She said she did not want to have roots but took her precious belongings with her to her homes in USA, Italy, Sweden, France and the UK. Her children said that when they were with their mother she devoted her full attention to them that was very special.
Stig Björkman and Bergman’s grown children received a standing ovation at the end of the film. During the next week and throughout September, Ingrid Bergman will be commerated in Sweden and her films will be shown at Cinemateket, the Swedish Film Archives. The US premiere of the film will be at the 53rd New York Film Festival on Oct 3. The festival icon, as at Cannes in May, is Ingrid Bergman.