Directed by Mai Zetterling

Mai Zetterling

Mai Zetterling (1925-1994) first came to international attention as the “sweet, blonde, and defenseless” star in post-war Swedish, British, and Hollywood movies. But she made her mark in the 1960s as the director of daring features, groundbreaking for their depiction of dynamic female protagonists at odds with contemporary mores, radical commentary on the sociopolitical attitude of the era, brazen sexuality and transgressive homoeroticism (she believed that “if you are doing a film in which the main characters are obsessed by sex, worried by it, frightened by it, then you have to show it, to deal with it”). – Film Forum (NYC)

Mai Zetterling: Loving Couples

Mai Zetterling · 1964 · Sweden
118min · DCP
Playing Aug 8

Adapted from a seven-novel cycle by Agnes von Krusenstjerna, Mai Zetterling’s debut directorial feature is as bold and provocative as its source material. Set on the eve of World War I, LOVING COUPLES depicts the divergent social, romantic, and familial pressures that lead three women whose stories are intertwined (Harriet Andersson, Gunnel Lindblom, and Gio Petré) to pregnancy. Though contributions from legendary cinematographer Sven Nykvist as well as Ingmar Bergman cast regulars Andersson, Lindblom, and Gunnar Björnstrand evoke Bergman’s work, Zetterling evinces a confidently distinct vision in her investigation of the complexities—and illusions—of marriage, childbirth, gender, and sexuality. New DCP restoration courtesy Swedish Film Institute and Janus Films.

“One of the most ambitious debuts since Citizen Kane” Kenneth Tynan

Loving Couples has several startlingly explicit scenes—a panorama of aberrations; an on-screen birth; and, for those bored with sex by human beings, sex by a pair of terriers. Miss Zetterling feels she has limited the sex to what supports the story.” Joanne Stang

“In Loving Couples, World War I looms beyond the horizon (Sweden did not participate in either of the world wars), and in the dialogue, marriage is explicitly connected to warfare. War and marriage teach people to hate each other, says Isa Landborg (Eva Dahlbeck) at one point in the film and when Dora Macson’s husband (Toivo Pawlo) talks about the sound of machine-gun fire, she reflects that it sounds just like home.” Mariah Larsson, A Cinema of Obsession: The Life and Work of Mai Zetterling

Part of Directed by Mai Zetterling, four new restorations by the Swedish actor and director, famed for her collaborations with Ingmar Bergman, Nicolas Roeg, and Ken Loach. Co-presented with the National Nordic Museum.

Showtimes

Monday, Aug 8: 7:30 pm


Mai Zetterling: Night Games

Mai Zetterling · 1966 · Sweden
105min · DCP
Playing Aug 9

Featuring content that sparked controversy on the festival circuit, NIGHT GAMES continues the daring exploration into sexual confusion that Mai Zetterling initiated in Loving Couples. The director’s sophomore feature centers on Jan (Keve Hjelm), a young man who introduces his fiancée (Lena Brundin) to his family’s estate. The now empty manor triggers remembrances of childhood traumas—as depicted in fuguelike flashbacks—that force Jan to recognize an incestuous attachment between him and his overaffectionate mother (Ingrid Thulin) and its corruption of his romantic relationships. Masterfully using architectural space to plumb the depths of the psyche, Zetterling suffuses Jan’s inner journey with atmospherics and symbolism as he confronts the demons of his past.

Night Games is an exceedingly Freudian film—although Zetterling later denied this and claimed that her heart was with Carl Gustav Jung rather than ‘uncle Freud’” Mariah Larsson, A Cinema of Obsession: The Life and Work of Mai Zetterling

“An absorbing, even brilliant film… When it was first exhibited at the Venice Film Festival in 1966, it was considered the most daring film ever made. The police closed the theater to the public, and the judges saw it at a private screening…Now it can be seen for what it is: Not a sexploitation film in any sense, but a serious attempt to get inside the mind of this character.” Roger Ebert

“It’s been attacked as pornographic, but the attacks have not convinced anybody who actually saw it; indeed the manner in which eroticism is handled would be enough to make anybody think twice about the joys of sex. For the concern of Night Games is with a certain kind of depravity and with its unfortunate consequences. The scenes which have caused objections are in fact shocking; that is why they are necessary to the film.” Film Comment

Part of Directed by Mai Zetterling, four new restorations by the Swedish actor and director, famed for her collaborations with Ingmar Bergman, Nicolas Roeg, and Ken Loach. Co-presented with the National Nordic Museum.

Showtimes

Tuesday, Aug 9: 7:30 pm


Mai Zetterling: The Girls

Mai Zetterling · 1968 · Sweden
100min · DCP
Playing Aug 15

Arguably Mai Zetterling’s most autobiographical film, THE GIRLS depicts a trio of female artists attempting to balance their professional careers, domestic lives, and political convictions in pursuit of creative and personal integrity. Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson, and Gunnel Lindblom play actors who struggle to satisfy the demands of both the stage and their families while starring in a production of Lysistrata. When a hostile audience rejects their interpretation of Aristophanes’s radical portrayal of female solidarity, the women dissolve the boundaries between art and life in an act of defiance that raises profound questions about the relationship between representational performance and social responsibility.

“Zetterling’s militantly sardonic humor, simultaneously leery of women’s acceptance of their oppression and hopeful of their potential for change, provides an awareness of the film’s frequent ludicrousness that both lightens and sharpens her critique.” Slant

“Through a moment in the lives of three women, we sense what it means to be a woman. What a verbal account can only poorly show is the art with which Mai Zetterling tells her story. All the images have multiple dimensions, the theatrical scenes reflect real life, and this touches on the dreams which brings us back to reality. Ironic and comic, this film moves us by the beauty of its landscapes, its poetry and above all the subtle tenderness with which we are shown the feminine faces. It is a great success and I hope that many will see it – men and women – to discover its seductions.” Simone de Beauvoir, Le Monde

Part of Directed by Mai Zetterling, four new restorations by the Swedish actor and director, famed for her collaborations with Ingmar Bergman, Nicolas Roeg, and Ken Loach. Co-presented with the National Nordic Museum.

Showtimes

Monday, Aug 15: 7:30 pm


Mai Zetterling: Amorosa

Mai Zetterling · 1986 · Sweden
117min · DCP
Playing Aug 14 through Aug 16

Zetterling’s directorial career came full circle with her final feature: whereas her first, Loving Couples, was adapted from a novel cycle by Agnes von Krusenstjerna, Amorosa offers a study of the author’s controversial life. As portrayed by Stina Ekblad in a bravura performance, Krusenstjerna establishes a place in literature at odds with the conventions of the early twentieth century, when depictions of female sexuality were taboo. Earning plaudits and censure, Krusenstjerna’s work scandalizes a Swedish society adapting to new ideas about freedom of expression and women’s rights. Meanwhile, the writer alienates her aristocratic family and descends into mental illness under the dubious care of her husband and literary executor, David Sprengel (Erland Josephson).

Part of Directed by Mai Zetterling, four new restorations by the Swedish actor and director, famed for her collaborations with Ingmar Bergman, Nicolas Roeg, and Ken Loach. Co-presented with the National Nordic Museum.

Showtimes

Sunday, Aug 14: 4:00 pm
Tuesday, Aug 16: 7:30 pm