Sweden keeps Bergman`s legacy alive

Fårö island: Great artists die, but their legacy lives on thanks to those alive. And that`s exactly what Sweden is doing with its most famous cinematic export - Ingmar Bergman.

"We want to use Ingmar Bergman to bring the world`s attention to Swedish cinema," said critic Jannike Åhlund to a group of international journalists from as far away as the US, Britain, Russia, China and India. She heads Bergman Week, an annual event held in what was Bergman`s home, Fårö island.

Though you will not find Bergman`s name on any signboard on the island, his legacy is everywhere, as the great director first discovered this island while location-hunting for his Oscar winning film "Through A Glass Darkly" in 1960. Five years later he made the island his home.

Wednesday marks Bergman`s 92nd birth anniversary.

Much before his death and with the consent of the master-director, Fårö was made literally into an island to promote Swedish culture and cinema.

Every year since 2004, the island has been host to Bergman Week when Bergman fans across the world come to get a taste of what this island inspired in the master director, as well as new Swedish culture and cinema.

This year the Swedish Institute, the premier body to promote Swedish art and culture, invited a host of journalists from across the world.

They were housed near a beach, taken around various locations where Bergman shot many of his memorable films and, along with that, were shown sampling from yet unreleased Swedish films, which despite some clichés show a potent mix of originality and potential. The institute has taken upon itself to market these films in festivals across the world.

And that`s not it. Every year it invites aspiring filmmakers to make short films which are screened during this time.

"We are here not just to polish his monuments," says Pia Lundberg of the Swedish Film Institute who has been actively involved with the event for years.

Jannike said: "People from all over the world come during the festival. You`ll be surprised at the places they come from - as far as China and Chile. Some are really pilgrims."

Among the invited visitors, besides journalists, are filmmakers and actors of repute who have worked with Bergman and those who admire him.

Ang Lee, who had come when Bergman was still alive, was in tears meeting the master. Bergman died July 30, 2007.

This year Liv Ullmann, partner and close compatriot of Bergman, returns to the island with her team to practise for her play, "Long Day`s Journey Into Night".

Sweden`s endeavour can prove to be a good learning point for India where art and artists are often neglected.



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