Stig Björkman's 'I Am Ingrid' mesmerizes 68th Cannes Film Festival

Ingrid Bergman with her film camera on the road.
Ingrid Bergman with her film camera on the road.
Courtesy of Mantaray Film

The festival poster for the 68th Cannes Film Festival is a picture of Ingrid Bergman. Her image is used in most of the daily schedules and this is truly because Swedish filmmaker Stig Björkman’s documentary - " Jag är Ingrid" (Ingrid Bergman - In Her Own Words, Sweden 2015) brings her to life again. The documentary was selected for the category "Cannes Classics" and its worlddebut at the festival was May 19. The film's international sales are managed byTrustNordisk and it has already been bought by Italy, Japan Taiwan and France.
"Ingrid Bergman - In Her Own Words" could just as well been in competition because the documentary is that good. It highlights the work of a woman that dedicated her life to film Though she was a phenomenal artist so little is out there about her life on film. The marginalization of women at the festival is one of the issues that Cannes has been criticized for and the need to address this is real and immediate. Even Ingrid Bergman experienced the same diminishment of roles when she was no longer a young ingénue.
Stig Björkman directed the documentary and co-wrote it with Dominika Daubenbüchel and producer Stina Gardell. Swedish vocalist Eva Dahlgren, who also sings the final ballad of the film, coordinated the Super 8 footage and Ingrid's letters to her friends are read by actress Alicia Vikander. Björkman revealed at the debut introduced by Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux that the film came about through his friendship to Ingrid's daughter Isabella Rossellini who suggested that they make a film about her mother.
Most of the film is found footage from newsreels but also footage of the home movies that Ingrid and her family made during her years in Hollywood, Italy, Sweden and London. The assemblage by Dominika Daubenbüchel is extraordinary and the editing of this footage is brilliant. Above all it shows that the ultra professional Ingrid Bergman gave the greatest emphasis to her children who were apart from her during her busy acting schedule.
We see Ingrid with a film camera on many occasions during the film. Her father was a photographer with an eye for mis en scène and selected costume and makeup for his portraits of Ingrid who is often in character. Ingrid lost her parents when she was very young and as far as men behind the camera, fell in love with photographer Robert Capra, and later in life married filmmakerRoberto Rossellini. She wrote to him and asked if he needed an actress who spoke English and a little French. That letter of invitation resulted in several years of marriage and the birth of three children, all of which are part of the film.Pia Lindström, her daughter by her first marriage to Petter Lindström, is also in the film.
Ingrid defied the conventions of Hollywood and never regretted the things that she did, she said, but "what she hadn’t done". As she got older, her choices for roles diminished but she still kept working. By her side throughout her career were several strong women including Irene Selznick, the wife of David O. Selznick, but in her letters to them it was always about her children. This extraordinary documentary makes you not only esteem Ingrid Bergman but also her children Pia (Lindström), Robert, Ingrid and Isabella Rossellini. All of them have her incredible charm and intelligence. In many ways Ingrid never lost her Swedish roots and when working in the garden, raking leaves and pushing a wheelbarrow, the tall Ingrid Bergman remained down to earth. She worked with great directors, but although she could not control what was said about her abroad and in Sweden, in her own life she made her own images.


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