Liv Ullmann traces her relationship with Ingmar Bergman over 42 years and 12 films
Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann is not someone you would expect to meet at an awards ceremony that celebrates Hindi cinema, with all its trappings of naach-gaana. But the legendary actress was the surprise guest at the IIFA weekend, Singapore. Liv Ullmann was part of the festival, where she showcased the documentary Liv and Ingmar to select invitees. Directed by Dheeraj Akolkar and with sound engineering by Resul Pookutty, the documentary is an ode to both Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann.
Told from Ullmann's point of view, the film is an emotional account based on Bergman's letters to Ullmann and the book Changing penned by the actress. “This film is about an encounter on an island, with a man who changed my life,” said Ullmann, in the documentary.
Young and vulnerable
Dheeraj Akolkar approached Liv Ullmann in December 2010, having read her book Changing. She first refused and then agreed and eventually let him shoot key sequences in the house that Ingmar Bergman had built for her. “I felt young, inexperienced and vulnerable to be standing in the house that Bergman built for her,” said Dheeraj, at an interaction post the documentary.
Ullmann made him feel at ease and asked him to approach the film as a human story rather than being overwhelmed by two renowned personalities. “I was convinced that I was in good company and that I could entrust Dheeraj with my emotional account,” said Ullmann.
“It was enriching to find 85 letters written by Bergman to Ullmann. Nobody knows what happens between a couple. These letters were an eye opener and I understood that if you truly love someone, you can never disconnect and say goodbye,” added Dheeraj.
Resul Pookutty had tried to get A.R. Rahman to compose for the film. “Rahman had other commitments and though he wanted to be a part of this film, he was unable to spare time. Then we decided to go for the Norwegian composer Stephen Nielson,” said Resul.
Clearly moved by the documentary, Resul added, “It is tough for me to dissociate from the project since I worked on it for six to seven months. As a film student, there have been times when I have watched films by Fellini or Bergman and have walked back to the hostel with nothing to say and just feeling how the films have enriched my life. I have the same feeling when I watch this documentary.”
Dheeraj doesn't intend to make Liv and Ingmar a feature film and is content with screening the film in international film festivals. As a parting shot, Ullmann stated, “When we completed this film, I felt I was leaving Bergman once more. I had been his voice for 42 years.”
(The writer was in Singapore at the invitation of IIFA)
Keywords: IIFA awards