Cannes is a place of mental humiliation

Below we have two letters from Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, both written in May of 1960, in which he makes clear his apparent hatred of awards ceremonies. The first letter, addressed to the founder of the Cinémathèque FrançaiseLotte Eisner, sees Bergman labelling the Cannes Film Festival as a “place of meat market and mental humiliation”; in the second, sent to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences themselves, he first refuses the Oscar nomination for Wild Strawberries (Original Screenplay) and then goes on to describe the whole institution as “humiliating.”

Unfortunately for Bergman, his work continued to attract both nominations and awards.

Transcripts follow. Images courtesy of Dizzy Dent Films.


Ingmar Bergman
AB Svensk Filmindustri

Solna 2/5 1960.

Mise Lotte H.Eisner
Cinematheque Francaise
82, rue de Courcelles
PARIS 8. /France/

Dear Miss Eisner,

I am always happy to hear from you.

On the other hand I am never happy, when anyone talks with me about FESTIVALS and I am especially sorry, that “JUNGFRUKÄLLAN” is going to be shown at the Festival of Cannes. I am afraid and I have a certain feeling about unpleasant surprises as “JUNGFRUKÄLLAN” together with “SOMMARLEK” is that one of my pictures I love most.

I would have liked very much to talk about Mr. Sjöström in connection with the performance of his films, if it hadn’t been in Cannes. But I hate that place of flesh meat market and mental humiliation.

At a festival you can really dispair of the motion picture as an art.

I hope soon to hear from you again.

With my warmest personal regards to Mr. Langlois and you.

Yours sincerely


Ingmar Bergman
AB Svensk Filmindustri

Solna 12/5 1960.

of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
9038 Melrose Avenue
HOLLYWOOD 46. /California/

Dear Sirs,

As “SMULTRONSTÄLLET” (“WILD STRAWBERRIES”) didn’t compete for “OSCAR” I think it is wrong to nominate the picture and therefor I want to return the “CERTIFICATE OF NOMINATION”.

I have found, that the “OSCAR”-nomination is one for the motion picture art humiliating institution and ask you to be released from the attention of the jury for the future.