Bergman, Flee at New York Film Fest

The spirit of Ingmar Bergman returns to the big screen in the new film 'Bergman Island' at the New York Film Festival. Together with the Danish film 'Flee' it is one of the most superb films of the year.  

  • Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps in "Bergman Island" (2021)
  • It takes a French director with Danish ancestors to dive into the mythical world of Ingmar Bergman. Mia Hansen-Løve, already admired for her outstanding “Goodbye First Love” (2011) and “Things to Come” (2016) etc., sets her first English speaking film on the Swedish island Fårö, where Bergman lived his last decades and shot the legendary films “Through a Glass Darkly” (1961) and “Persona” (1966), among others.

  • Two film directors (Tim Roth and Vicky Krieps), who are a couple, find themselves breathing the same air as the Swedish master hoping to find inspiration for their latest screenplays. Based loosely on Hansen-Løve’s own creative process (she had a relationship with famous French director Olivier Assayas) the story jumps into a film within a film when another story unfolds and two lovers (Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie) meet again. Woven together as a game for cinephiles with Bergman references, the film maneuvers around the familiar landscape in a lyrical and poignant way but with Hansen-Løve’s unique voice (Bergman’s house, cinema and “Scenes From a Marriage”-bed are all here). Not only has she created a sort of love letter to Bergman, but she does it—like in her other films—intelligently, fluently and fully personally.

  • Another even more personal film at the NYFF is the Danish animated documentary “Flee,” which has already made successful trips around the world since it won major prizes at Sundance and Göteborg film festivals. This unpleasantly relevant, immediate and heartbreakingly stunning diamond tells the real story of how the Afghani boy Amin flees through Russia with his destination being Sweden. From Kabul’s streets listening to Ah-a’s “Take on Me” through Moscow blues, Estonia abyss and Copenhagen cool, the film asks, with a big heart, fundamental questions about interrupted childhoods, memories, sexuality and what the word “home” really means. If you only watch one film in 2021, this is the one.

  • But if you are hungry for more film food, NYFF offers a smorgasbord of the best of the year. After opening with Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” where Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand portray the Shakespearean couple, you can also make a trip to Russia with the fantastic “Unclenching the Fists.” Or travel through Iran in the moving road movie “Hit the Road” or through Japan in the masterful “Drive My Car.” Summer's “The Tsugua Diaries” takes you to Portugal under lockdown, while “Ahed’s Knee” shakes you up in Israel. France is worth a visit in “Petite Mamam,” so is a 1920’s Harlem in the impressive “Passing” and a futuristic Rwanda in eye-popping musical “Neptune Frost.” These and many more feed you the medicine of our time: a cinematic flee to other places.

  • Niclas Goldberg

  • For more info on the New York Film Festival, see