Archive for September 29th, 2009

The Bergman Auction Update

September 29, 2009

Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman’s Laterna Magica

A full list of items from Ingmar Bergman’s (whose film Passion of Anna screens in our 69 program in November) estate on auction can be found here

An account of the offering from the New Yorker

Word is in from our far-flung correspondent, Willing Davidson, formerly a colleague here on the editorial staff and now living in Stockholm, about what transpired at yesterday’s auction of Ingmar Bergman’s belongings:

Bukowskis, despite its dubious name, is probably the foremost Swedish auction house. It was packed yesterday, just overwhelmed with people in its quite small auction room. Viewing had been going on for the previous four days, and we had gone on Friday. The excitement came not only from seeing Bergman’s possessions all laid out, but also because the auctioneers had placed very low estimates on everything. So, as we wandered around, we thought it possible that we might get to take something home on Monday, like two stopwatches, estimate between two hundred to three hundred crowns, or thirty to forty dollars, or even this woodcut of the Seventh Seal, estimate between four to five hundred crowns, or fifty-five to seventy dollars. More eager previewers sat down at his two pianos and played some appropriately elegiac music.

They were even auctioning his two Mercedes—this one will be familiar to viewers of the documentary Bergman Island, when Bergman drives around his home island of Fårö in it.

Swedes, being shy, don’t excuse themselves when they push past you, so after getting our paddle, my girlfriend and I spent half an hour before the auction trying to stand our ground as the hordes swarmed the auction house. The first item was a print of Bergman’s famous magic lantern, estimated at three to four thousand crowns. The “klubbat pris,” or hammer price: twenty-seven thousand. And so it went. The actual magic lantern went for five hundred thousand crowns, and the chess set for a million. I left after half an hour, but Alison stayed for a while longer. Later, we watched it online as it went into its eighth hour. Our stopwatches were klubbed for eighty-two thousand crowns. Everyone wants a piece.

The total take was about $2.56 million. Christie’s took bids on his houses on Fårö during the summer, and their sale will be concluded soon; the Swedish government, which wished to turn one of them into the site of a cultural center devoted to Bergman, is not happy about it.

And this from the AP

Bergman items sold at auction in Sweden

By LOUISE NORDSTROM (AP)

STOCKHOLM — A chipped and incomplete chess set believed to have featured in one of Ingmar Bergman’s best known films fetched one of the highest bids at a special auction for the late director’s belongings, auction house officials said Tuesday.

The set, which had been valued at around 10,000-15,000 kronor ($1,430-$2,150), sold for 1 million kronor ($142,000), said Charlotte Bergstrom, a spokeswoman at Bukowskis in Stockholm. It is missing a white king and is believed to have been used in “The Seventh Seal,” one of Bergman’s most famous films.

“In one part of the film, Max von Sydow sweeps his mantle over the table and the (chess) pieces fall to the ground and you can see that the white king breaks into pieces,” Bergstrom said.

Bergstrom said the auction began Monday and lasted for more than nine hours, ending in the early hours of Tuesday and garnering a total of 17.9 million kronor ($2.6 million).

All 337 objects, including Bergman’s wastebasket, writing desk and Golden Globe awards, were sold. A red-painted, devil-shaped jumping jack — given to Bergman by his grandson Ola — was auctioned for 29,000 kronor ($4,100).

A wooden model of Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theater with a tiny model of the legendary director sitting inside it, scored the highest bid: 1.03 million kronor ($147,500). Bergman headed the theater for several years in the mid-1960s.

Bergstrom called the auction “historic,” saying that even though the hammer prices were expected to be higher than estimates, they still exceeded expectations. “And because it’s him, Ingmar Bergman, it inflates the prices a bit, of course.”

The proceeds will go to Bergman’s family, Bergstrom said.

In the four days the objects were showcased before the auction, Bukowskis received more than 8,000 visitors. The auction house’s Web site tallied more than 5,000 hits a day from 116 countries, Bergstrom said.

According to the auction house, Bergman insisted in his will that his assets be auctioned off to prevent them from being caught up in “some kind of emotional hullabaloo.”

Bergman died July 30 at age 89 in his home on the Baltic Sea islet of Faro. His films won numerous international awards, including best foreign film Oscars for “The Virgin Spring,” “Through a Glass Darkly” and “Fanny and Alexander.”

His 84-acre (34-hectare) Faro property is also up for sale in a process managed by Christie’s Great Estates in London.

Local Sightings spotlight: River Ways

September 29, 2009

There are a lot of very different programs in this year’s Local Sightings Film Festival. So, for the next few days leading up to the festival, I thought I’d spotlight a few movies and events to make sure nothing gets lost in all the excitement.

Today, it’s River Ways. This documentary film about the salmon runs and dam controversy in Eastern Washington does a truly impressive job of making the issue personal, understandable, and (important in a movie) a compelling story. Don’t miss it. You will listen to the news and regional politics – not just regarding fisheries and conservation – in a very different way. Plus, for those of you interested in the recent local agriculture movement, there’s a fascinating profile and opinion piece from a Washington state farmer (who you just might have met last year at the Puyallup Fair).

The film’s website has not been updated to list Local Sightings (boo), but you can see the crazy long list of all the other places nowhere near Washington state that deemed the film worthy of a screening here. (That is, the film has interest and merit beyond just being about issues in the Northwest.)

Here’s the description:

“River Ways” explores the lives of regular working people affected by the issue of whether to remove four dams on the Snake River in Eastern Washington. Environmental groups and fishing interests criticize the dams for their negative impact on salmon populations, but agricultural communities dependent on the dams oppose efforts to remove them. Combining interviews with careful everyday observation, and set against the scenic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, “River Ways” introduces us to a
set of characters with a surprisingly complex mix of perspectives. Frank Sutterlict, a Native American fisherman living in an encampment on the Columbia River, struggles to make ends meet in the face of dwindling salmon numbers. Ben Barstow, a family farmer in Washington, fears the effect of dam removal on his already marginal business. And Mark Ihander, a commercial fisherman, hangs on to an industry in economic decline. Other subjects include environmental activists, irrigators, sport fishermen, and salmon biologists. What emerges is a complex portrait of an issue that reaches to the heart of the ideological differences that characterize and divide the Pacific Northwest, and
indeed many environmental issues throughout the world.

And, from the press kit, here’s the director’s statement from Colin Stryker:

I first came across the issue of the Snake River dams in an environmental magazine in October of 2000. At the time, I was saving up some money for my first independent feature, kicking around some ideas, working on a few screenplays. When I read the article, I was immediately struck by the complexity of the issue, the variety of interest groups affected, and the depth of the emotions at stake. Within this seemingly
simple question of whether or not to remove several remote dams, lurked some powerful ideas about our use of natural resources in modern society, the relationship between our rural and urban sector, and our treatment of and obligations to Native Americans. I knew almost instantly that this was the topic about which I wanted to make my first feature film. I decided right away that the film had to be personal. What interested me about the topic was the way it lay at the intersection of a complex environmental issue – with all the corresponding political, economic, and social factors – and the very fundamental concept of ordinary people going about their lives and livelihoods.

This would not be a film that used a purely analytical approach – with lots of graphics, talking heads, and narration – but rather would pry into the nuanced, organic perspectives of those who had the most at stake in the issue. By getting to know the people affected by the issue, we would come to know the issue at its most sublime and visceral level. I also knew that the film had to be neutral with regard to the removal of the dams. Regardless of my own feelings on the issue, what interested about it was the variety of perspectives the issue represented, and how this reflected on society’s approach to environmental issues to begin with. The true understanding of the
issue that I sought would only be arrived at by presenting each of these perspectives with proper respect and sensitivity.

In November of 2000, while living in Los Angeles, I began a series of self-funded trips to the Pacific Northwest, to gather information about the issue, meet some of the characters involved, and develop a visual sense of the region, which I had never before visited. My goal ultimately was to find particular individuals who would represent the various interest groups involved. I would follow these individuals for a year, seeking not just to elicit their opinions about the Snake River dams, but to get a glimpse into their
lives and the stake they had in the issue. It took a great deal of perseverance, calling in favors, and many miles on my car to find folks who would allow me to document their lives for a year. But by the end of 2002, I had my subjects chosen. I packed up everything and moved to Portland, which would be my home base from which to make the film.

River Ways plays Local Sightings Tuesday, October 6 at 7pm. Get your tickets here.

AP Polanski Update

September 29, 2009