Cannes: When Ingrid Bergman Was Queen of the Festival

David Seymour/Magnum Photos
Bergman, looking out over the Croisette during a visit to Cannes in 1956, in a photograph by David Seymour. Known as Chim, Seymour had covered World War II alongside fellow photographer Robert Capa, with whom Bergman had had an affair. After Capa died in 1945 in Indochina, "Chim and Mama became quite close," says Isabella. "He took many photographs of my family, with Mama always looking radiant."

The late Oscar winner is feted at this year's festival, as daughter Isabella Rossellini, the Un Certain Regard president, recalls: "She never wore makeup, only for work, but was always glamorous."

This story first appeared in the May 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

When Isabella Rossellini takes her seat as president of the Un Certain Regard jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival, she'll be taking part in a long-standing family tradition. Both her parents — Roberto Rossellini, the influential Italian director who pioneered neorealism by taking his camera to the streets in the wake of World War II, and her mother, Ingrid Bergman, whose tearful farewell to Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca is one of those indelible screen moments — were frequent visitors.

In 1946, her father's Rome, Open City screened at the very first Cannes. Her mother headed the competition jury in 1973 and her father had that honor in 1977, dying just seven days after that year's festival ended. Isabella herself became part of Cannes' history in 1990, when David Lynch's Wild at Heart, in which she starred, won the Palme d'Or. "Cannes has always had a lot of studios represented, American distributors participating, maybe more so than at other festivals," Isabella tells THR. "And my family, having been successful on both continents, maybe that was the reason there has been this long history."

That connection will be further underscored this year as a radiant Bergman, whose image adorns the official poster, watches over the proceedings. The festival plans to celebrate her career with a screening of Stig Bjorkman's documentary Ingrid Bergman — In Her Own Words. Born in 1915, Bergman, who died in 1982, became a truly international star, working first in her native Sweden, then America. When she left her first husband, Petter Lindstrom, in 1950 to marry Rossellini, it created a scandal, but after spending much of the '50s in Italy, she was welcomed back to America when she won her second Oscar for playing a pretender to the Russian throne in 1956's Anastasia.

Isabella, now 62 and the mother of two grown children, plans to celebrate the centenary of her mother's birth by appearing later this year in staged readings of Bergman's autobiography My Story with such actors as Jeremy Irons and issuing a new book, Ingrid Bergman — A Life in Pictures (Chronicle Books). Says Isabella, "It's not just about celebrating her but also cele­brating the culture of the period in which she lived."


Bergman on the train from Rome to Cannes in 1956.


Bergman and Rossellini, who were married from 1950 to 1957, had three children: older brother Roberto (bottom left), Isabella (between their parents) and twin sister Ingrid. Seymour took this photo of the Rossellinis at their home in Rome in 1956. "Chim did the most touching photos of our family," says Isabella. "He did the most wonderful photos of the hardships that civilians endured during the war, and he definitely had a very tender eye for family."


Bergman (center), flanked by Rossellini (left) and fellow director Vittorio De Sica, departed a luncheon in Cannes in 1956.


When Lynch, whom Isabella was dating at the time, won the Palme d’Or in 1990 for his road movie 'Wild at Heart,' it didn’t come as a complete surprise. "We were impatient to leave to go home," recalls Isabella. "But they wanted us to stay. And the president of Cannes said to David this wonderful sentence: 'It’s going to be something, and this something isn’t nothing.'"

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