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Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival announces the first Lifetime Achievement Award and an Ingmar Bergman mini-focus

Festivals 2018-11-08
Liv Ullmann in Autumn Sonata Liv Ullmann in Autumn Sonata

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival awards Norwegian actress and director Liv Ullmann with the festival’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. Director Ingmar Bergman, an affiliate of the actress, will have a mini-focus programme.

Liv Ullmann, a renowned and awarded actress and film director, and the goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund, is celebrating her 80th birthday this year. Having played in and directed several films that have screened at Black Nights and its sub-festival Sleepwalkers over the years, she will receive the honorary Lifetime Achievement Award - the first of three to be handed out by the festival this year.

Ullmann rose to international stardom in the 1960’s, having played in a series of films directed by Ingmar Bergman, with whom she developed a long-lasting and productive collaboration, having played in 10 of films and some of his most celebrated works, such as Persona (1966), The Passion of Anna (1969), Cries and Whispers (1972) and Autumn Sonata (1978).  Both Autumn Sonata and Cries and Whispers have been screened at Black Nights as well, in 2008 as part of the Ingmar Bergman retrospective.

It was for the role of Kristina Nilsson in The Emigrants, directed by Jan Troell, that she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Female Actress, for the first time, in 1972. The film was screened at Black Nights in 1999 as part of the Jan Troell retrospective. She has also received two BAFTA nominations for Scenes From a Marriage (1973) and Face to Face (1976) for which she also received her second Academy Award nomination. Both films were directed by Bergman. She has been nominated for the Golden Globes six times, winning once in 1972 with The Emigrants.

Ullmann began her directing career in 1992 with Sophie, which was selected by Denmark as their candidate for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award. Her film Faithless premiered in the Official Selection of Cannes in 2000 and was also shown at the fourth edition of Black Nights. She has directed three more films, the latest of which, Miss Julie, features Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell in leading roles.

Tiina Lokk, the head of Black Nights commented: “The whole body of work of Liv Ullmann can be regarded as a representation of Nordic film culture and she has done marvellous work, both as an actress and a director as well as a woman. She is a strong personality who can set a fine example to many these days, as she succeeded at a time when the film industry hadn’t heard about gender quotas - it was all down to professionality and the extent of the qualities of the person.”

Ingmar Bergman 100 mini-focus to screen a rarity

The festival is will also hold a celebration of Ingmar Bergman's 100th birthday, that includes an exhibition by the Bergman foundation and a small focus programme screening a rare film of his that is not shown very often - a Cold War-era spy thriller These Things Can’t Happen Here (1950), internationally also known as High Tension. Far from the director’s favourites in his oeuvre, the film holds significant historical value to Estonia since Bergman used Estonian theatre actors who had fled the Soviet occupation during WW2 in it. Bergman addressed this matter even in his diary where he wrote during the shooting of the film:
A creative paralysis hit me after only four days of shooting. That was exactly when I met the exiled Baltic actors who were going to participate. The encounter was a shock. Suddenly I realise which film we ought to be making. Among these exiled actors I discovered such a richness of lives and experiences that the unevenly developed intrigue in ‘This can't happen here’ seemed almost obscene.

The festival has secured exclusive screening rights from the Swedish Film Institute and the screenings of both films will be accompanied by a lecture from the Bergman-expert Christo Burman, who is a senior lecturer in media arts, aesthetics and narration at the University of Skövde, Sweden.

The focus will also include a screening of Bergman’s classic Autumn Sonata and an exhibition of Ingmar Bergman and his Legacy in Fashion and Art, having its emphasis on the influence that Bergman – as an iconic filmmaker and reluctant trendsetter – has on today’s fashion and art.