Swedish meatballs with a side of existential inquiry

The Swedish Film Festival, organized by The Projector in collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden and the Swedish Institute, returns for its third run on Apr 12-15 to celebrate the centenary of one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Ingmar Bergman.

Over the course of six decades, Bergman has written and directed more than 60 films; a spectacular feat seeing how he’s also managed to find the time to direct more than 170 plays both in Sweden and abroad, on top of penning more than 100 books and articles. The sheer intensity of the often soul-searching inquiry of his films can be daunting for anyone who’s new to his work, and rightly so because he skillfully uses the medium to explore recurring themes of mortality, infidelity, harsh parenting, loneliness and faith—concerns in his life, which probably made him such a master of his craft—and goes head on in reflecting many uncomfortable parts of humanity and the human psyche, forcing his audience to do the same with their own inner demons.

It’s only apt that local filmmaker Kirsten Tan, who continuously names Bergman as one of her influences, curate a series of his films for this year’s festival. Throughout the four days, Tan has divided the program into a comprehensive but not strictly delineated timeline to represent his body of work; from his early work in Summer With Monika and classical period (a.k.a. works he’s best known for) to his later works where he paid more attention to form and his final chamber dramas.

The festival kicks off with the 1972 period drama piece Cries and Whispers, a striking film that focuses on two sisters and their maid taking care of a dying woman in the exploration of the human spirit in the face of death; followed by the dreamlike 1957 film Wild Strawberries—considered by many to have been responsible for Bergman’s climb to international acclaim—which follows an old medical professor and his daughter-in-law on a road trip through the Swedish countryside.

The weekend then sees what Tan has described a “full-day Bergman immersion”, where she has curated three films on both days that can be watched in succession. “They are different enough that viewing fatigue will not set in, yet at the same time, they contain intriguing threads when viewed back to back, fruitfully stimulating a thinking audience game and hardcore enough to catch all three movies in a day”, she adds in her foreword.

The festival will then close with Bergman Island, a documentary that features a series of candid interviews with the reclusive man himself, shot by Swedish documentarian Marie Nyrerod, who will be present for a post-screening Q&A session.

More info here.