Liv & Ingmar
A deeply affecting story of love, friendship, and the battles that come in-between, viewers needn’t know anything about the actual films of famed auteur Ingmar Bergman and one of his greatest muses, Liv Ullman to appreciate Dheeraj Akolkar’s documentary about their tumultuous love life, eventual friendship, and closeness that felt like kismet. Told entirely from Ullman’s point of view, it’s a deeply personal, frank, funny, and heartbreaking look at the virtues and tolls of the closest friendships people can have.
First getting to know each other on the set of Persona when she was 25 and he was 46, Norweigan actress Ullman began a romantic relationship with Swedish director Bergman at his Faro Island home, with each leaving their spouse for the other. They would have a child together, but never marry, and despite their deep love for each other, Bergman’s insecurity and sometimes violently misplaced jealously drove them apart (a personality trait that probably led to him having nine kids and five wives in his lifetime). Following their split and Ullman leaving Europe to attain international success, the two remained extremely supportive friends that kept each other going.
Consisting of archival footage with occasional narration, scenes from classic Bergman films that seem inspired by his relationship with Liv, and Ullman’s almost picture perfect and well worded accounts of her 42 years of knowing Bergman, only the latter is really necessary for a deep appreciation of their life together. While I’m sure it helps to know a little bit about Bergman, Ullman and Akolkar frame the story so perfectly that almost no other explanation is necessary aside from just saying that it’s a lovingly told story about how much two people mean to each other.
Also at The Bloor this week:
Liv & Ingmar is the only new film hitting the Hot Docs Cinema this week, but the really awesome Particle Fever from last week is sticking around for another week. But for those interested in furthering their knowledge of Ullman and Bergman on screen should check out a special screening of their 1972 collaboration Cries and Whispers on Monday at 8:45pm. Both new releases will also carry over to next week in case you miss them.
The first special event of the week is the inaugural edition of the music themed This Film Should Be Played Loud series, which you think would kick off with The Last Waltz (the title card of which gives the series its name), but instead it kicks off with the really fun crowd-shot concert doc Awesome, I Fuckin’ Shot That! on Friday at 9:30pm (doors at 8:15), featuring cheap tallboys and an old school hip-hop DJ set by Pursuit of Happiness singer Moe Berg.
The following Saturday afternoon at 1:30pm, things get a lot more refined with a theatrically exhibited performance of the London Royal Opera House’s Turandot. This one time only screening and the Toronto premiere of this version of Puccini’s final opera in the latest in The Bloor’s Opera on Screen series.