Sweden acts to preserve Bergman archive, films

The Swedish government is donating the equivalent of $3 million Cdn to help preserve the films and scripts of the late director Ingmar Bergman.

The Swedish government has announced a donation of 20 million crowns ($3 million Cdn) to help preserve the films and scripts of the late director Ingmar Bergman.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth made the proclamation in a letter published Monday in the daily Dagens Nyheter.

"[Ingmar] Bergman has given Swedish stage art a unique position in the world. It deserves to be recognized … The rich output of films and television drama contributed by Bergman make up an important part of our cultural heritage," they wrote.

"It is important to ensure that [his] artistic heritage is managed and can provide inspiration to the audience of tomorrow."

Bergman, who died on July 30 at age 89 in his home on the Baltic Sea island of Faro, will be commemorated at Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre on Monday evening.

He was hailed by American director Woody Allen as "the greatest film artist of my lifetime."

The money would mainly cover films which the legendary auteur directed or wrote, as well as the purchase of copyrights and converting Bergman's scripts into digital form.

The letter noted the director's films were in high demand from festivals but there were too few copies of certain works and the quality in some cases was poor.

While the Ingmar Bergman Foundation keeps a vast private archive of Bergman's scripts, notes and photographs, the foundation lacks the resources to digitize the archive.

Considered one of the great masters of 20th century cinema, Bergman won numerous international awards, including Oscars for best foreign film for The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly and Fanny and Alexander.

For more than three decades he produced an average of a movie a year, including Wild Strawberries (1957), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1963), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), Autumn Sonata (1978) and Saraband (2003).

With files from the Associated Press