CFP: “Everything represents: nothing is”. Bergman revisited - a Centennial Conference (1918-2018)

Submission deadline: May 30, 2018

Conference date(s):
October 24, 2018 - October 27, 2018

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Conference Venue:

University of Évora
Évora, Portugal

Topic areas


2018 commemorates the centenary of Ingmar Bergman’s birth. To honour and to address the artistic legacy of this great master, the University of Évora / ‘Cinema-fora-dos Leões’, together with ‘Colecção B’, is organizing next 24th-27th October 2018, in partnership with Leopardo Filmes, the Bergman Foundation and the Embassy of Sweden in Portugal, plus the support of the Alentejo Cultural Directory, the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, and the CHAIA (Universidade de Évora), Práxis (Universidade da Beira Interior/ Universidade de Évora) and CFUL (Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa) research Centers, an International Conference and a select screening of Bergman’s cinematic oeuvre in the world heritage town of Évora, Portugal. For a more comprehensive overview of the contents and aims of the Conference, please visit the following address:

CFA: "Everything represents: nothing is". Bergman Revisited - A Centennial Conference (1918-2018)

From the heights of his towering presence amidst the landscape of European art film, the core of the perhaps too well-known Bergman’s work remains an enigma to date, and stirs a thought-provoking network of questions: is there an innermost, ultimate meaning inhabiting Ingmar Bergman’s artistic thought and creative output – and, if so, how are we to define it? Or, asking more broadly: what are the formal-stylistic, aesthetic, thematic, philosophical, film-specific, performative features circumscribing this undeniable unity of meaning which, on the other hand, always eludes definition?

In a further line of consideration, beside the filmmaker, there stands also Bergman the writer and screenwriter, the stage director, the producer, the theatre manager, the man of culture impregnated with a wealth of interartistic references, who is able to mobilize ingeniously devised intermedial resources going from literature to music, from architecture to painting, but also keen on bridging the gap between high culture and the popular world of circus and travelling players. The name or brand ‘Bergman’ points, in fact, to a vast realm whose internal complexity begs for further exploration.

The public access to his archives through the edition of parts of his writings, together with the published original scripts, add yet another revealing side to the polyhedron Bergman, a multilayered treasure offered to the study of the scholar and the loving care of the film geek, that invites the launching of a larger meeting that can bring together the community of Bergman enthusiasts in a scientific symposium. Bearing testimony to the same process of a ‘return to Bergman’ (or will it be ‘of Bergman’?), the growing international interest on the multidimensionality of his monumental body of work translates itself into a profusion of new books and essays, conferences and academic dissertations. This voluminous bibliography, embracing both primary and secondary sources, constitutes the current basis for any serious undertaking within the field of Bergman Studies.

In this context, the initial pretext of a commemoration of the anniversary surmounts itself towards the more formal purpose of setting an international conference guided by the epistemological aim of reopening and retargeting the central thematics of the Bergman field.


The persistence of Bergman amongst the top list of the ‘films to bring to our island’, demands from us a task akin to that of cinema: coming back again and again to the art of distributing wisely the lights and the shadows.

We are welcoming proposals for a 20+10minutes talk, both as individual or co-authored presentations, and in panels of more than one contributors (20+10min. x 2 or x 3). The deadline for submitting an abstract not exceeding 3000 characters (including spaces) in PDF and Word formats is May 30th 2018. The working languages of the Conference are English and Portuguese. The authors will be notified of the acceptance of their proposals by June 30th 2018

The possibility of a future publication of a book of essays summing up the outcome of this meeting is being envisaged.

The following list of topics and themes will hopefully suggest as many other ones of similar importance

The filmic constellation

Bergman as auteur

The place of Bergman within Swedish cinema

Bergman and his cinematic ancestors

The cinematic posterity of Bergman

Bergman between Modernism and Postmodernism

The ‘other Bergman’: the beginnings (A Ship Bound for India…), the singularities (The Serpent’s Egg…), the television summulae (The Blessed Ones…)

Cinema movies and TV movies

Approaches to a film or films in particular

Comparative approaches to singular works: within Bergman’s filmography, between his and other filmographies, between the stage director and the film director

The heuristic value of the ‘Trilogies’ and of other significant groupings

The ‘war films’ as an archeology of conflict

Comedies, dramas and other genres

The films-testament (In the Presence of a Clown, Fanny and Alexander, After the Rehearsal, The Image Makers, Saraband): the nostalgic retrospection while neighboring an ending

Is there an ‘essential core’ of meaning to Bergman’s opus?

Intermediality and intersensoriality

The multidimensionality of Ingmar Bergman: the man of the (stage, radio, and TV) theatre, the cinema man, the man of literature

Presence and importance of music / painting / theatre / literature / lanterna magica in Bergman’s education and filmmaking

The forging of the filmmaker in the context of the Swedish cultural and literary tradition

The cultural landmarks incorporated into film

Medium-specificity, intermediality, interartisticity, and re-mediation

The ‘theatre films’

Theatrical space and cinematic space

Verbality, visuality, aurality: Bergman and the cinema of the senses

Emotion and expression

The sentimental (under)tones: humor, pathos, inexpressivo, cry, restraint, satire, violence…

The ‘philosophy’ of Ingmar Bergman

Representation and truth

Metaphysics, ethics, religion

Humanism and nihilism

Intimism, apoliticism and… politics

Self-referentiality and metalepsis of the cinema (PrisonPersona…)

Dramaticity, narrativity, and non-narrativity in Bergman’s cinema

The memory of cinema: explicit quotation and constitutive nostalgia

The complex, labyrinthine structures of the film inside the film: anticipating the Virtual Reality fables?

Methodologies and epistemologies regarding Bergman

Philosophy of cinema

The psychoanalytical perspectives

Bergman and Existentialism

Cultural-historical and societal contexts

Film Studies

Critical Theory

Cultural Studies

Feminist, gender and queer readings

Conflicts of interpretations: the psychological, the social, the existential, the anthropological, the cinematic  

The Bergmanian themes and universes

Evil, wickedness, pessimism, war, the couple, existence, God, silence, madness, perversion, humiliation, death, life…

Recurrent topics in Bergman (thematic, technical, image-bound): the hand, the Bergmanian close-up, the empty face, the child, the couple, Bach’s music, the phantom, the clown…

The ‘medieval’ Bergman

Ritual, circus, sacrifice, play, game

Eroticism, love, sex – and their antonyms

A women’s filmmaker, a couple’s filmmaker, an actor’s filmmaker

Personal singularity vs type-characters: the mask-names in Bergman (Johan(nes), Egerman(n), Anna, Marianne, Karin, Vergerus, Vogler...)

Art and life

Biography, autobiography and artistic transposal

Personal singularity vs type-characters: the mask-names in Bergman (Johan(nes), Egerman(n), Anna, Marianne, Karin, Vergerus, Vogler...)

Alter egos and fetish actors: from Birger Malmsten and Erland Josephson to Bibi Anderson and Liv Ullmann

The contemporariness of Bergman

Criticism of the assumptions of the Bergmanian worldview

The deficit of the social and the political dimensions in addressing the human

Bergman, a reader of his times: the ‘malaise in the culture’

The critical exegesis of Bergman’s cinema over the ages

Critical revision of the state-of-the-art in Bergman studies

The image-maker

Treatment of space and time

Treatment of the gesture and the body

Interiority, environing space, architecture

Haptic vision and carnality in Bergman

Specificity of Bergman’s close-up?

Writing the script

From script to screen

Bergman’s actors (and actresses)

The film crew, the troupe, and the director

Directing (and) the technical dimensions: montage, cinematography, scenography…

The fascination of the Image

Registration fees:

Early bird: 50€

Late bird (after the 31st of July): 70€

Cinema Cycle: 'The other Bergman'

In addition to the conference, a carefully devised cinema cycle will revolve the 'unknown Bergman' and will offer the opportunity to present and publicly discuss a set of more than 20 films of the master. All the screenings will be presented and commented by guest speakers.

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