In 1918 that great poet of Nordic cinema, Ingmar Bergman, was born in Uppsala. Very appropriately, it is a city which both celebrates the art of the cinema and is celebrated in Swedish film. Many film enthusiasts, not least the many directors he has influenced, have paid a visit to Sweden in honor of the maestro.
Bergman spent much of his childhood in Uppsala and one of his most popular films, Fanny and Alexander, was filmed on location in the city and was based on his own memories. It was here that his lifelong love affair with the silver screen began.
For the infant Ingmar, one of the highlights of the week was to accompany his granny, Anna, to matinees at Slottsbiografen, the local cinema, to watch the latest silent films. It is only a few minutes walk from Trädgårdsgatan 12 where she lived in a luxurious 14 room apartment. When older, he was even allowed to visit the projection room. Founded in 1914 Slottsbio is one of the oldest cinemas in Sweden and still occasionally has screenings. Fyrisbiografen, the charming local cinema in the university quarter, founded in 1911, is even older and is still in full use.
One of the major events of the year is the Uppsala Short Film Festival. Since its inception in 1982, it has been a major seedbed for young talent and has considerable international status. One of the best Swedish films of recent years, Amanda Kernell’s debut Sami Blood, started as a short film and then went on to become a feature film which has been feted around the world. Uppsala plays a major role in its story of Elle Marja, a 14 year old girl from a Sami reindeer herding family, who, angry at the racism of 1930s Swedish society against her people, aspires to a better life. Verdant, sophisticated, enticing: the city has never looked more ravishing and splendid than in Kernell’s film.
Many cinephiles will come to Uppsala to celebrate the great man’s centenary. They will find Bergman’s legacy is still very alive in the city of his birth.