Just returned from a month-long sojourn to Goteborg, Sweden, where I was honored to be a guest at the Buntel Eriksson Memorial Film Festival.
Best known stateside for his maritime musical Svanga Langtansfull (The Wistful Waves) and only recently rediscovered in his native Sweden, Eriksson was remembered with screenings of his films, panel discussions and a tribute that saw his frequent leading lady Rifka Benco toss a garland of fuchsias into the Skagerrak bay of the North Sea. A modicum of scholarship on the part of the coordinators, however, would have revealed that Eriksson, though thoughtfully eulogized, isn’t actually dead.
“He’s not dead ? yet,” reminds festival director Mimi Hoeg, who went on to justify the oversight with “We’re a very forward looking film festival.”
The gaffe left Eriksson himself without a proper invitation, though he did manage to attend some of his films’ screenings as a volunteer usher.
“Being ahead of my time, it’s only fitting that I be honored before my time,” the octogenarian Eriksson mused with a generous smile when I chanced a word with him at the Kafe Plastspion. His only misgiving was that his eager-beaver lawyer, having seen a festival advert in the Goteborgs-Posten, had executed his will while he was busy manning the velvet ropes at a screening of his seminal Liten Hund.
“When I went to my apartment, where before I had nothing, now even less,” Eriksson said of his admittedly modest estate. “Everything I own has been inherited by the Swedish Cinema Society. I wouldn’t mind so much if they had left the hotplate. Or maybe a chair.”
Instead of scuttling plans to recreate Erkisson’s apartment as an exhibit in their capacious new Filmmuseet museum and library (let alone return the director’s meager belongings), the Swedish Cinema Society have extended the director a lifetime membership and entreated him “To visit anytime.”