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Bo Widerberg

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Bo Widerberg
Bo Widerberg in 1990.
Bo Gunnar Widerberg

(1930-06-08)8 June 1930
Died1 May 1997(1997-05-01) (aged 66)
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, editor, actor
Years active1962–1995
Spouse(s)Ann-Mari Björklund
(m. 1953⁠–⁠1954)

Vanja Nettelbladt
(m. 1954⁠–⁠1973)
ChildrenNina, Martin, Johan, Matilda

Bo Gunnar Widerberg (Swedish: [ˈbuː ˈvîːdɛrbærj]; 8 June 1930 – 1 May 1997) was a Swedish film director, writer, editor and actor.


Early life[edit]

Widerberg was born in Malmö, Malmöhus County, Sweden.


Bo Widerberg began his career as a writer. In 1952 came his first novel, Hösttermin. In the same year, his short story collection Kyssas, published by Bonnier, became a bestseller. His most successful book was the novel Erotikon (1957). The novel's title comes from Mauritz Stiller's silent film classic Erotikon (1920). Widerberg's last novel is Den gröna draken, which was published in 1959 and is a satire on the advertising industry. The book was made into a film by Widerberg himself with the title Heja Roland! (1966).

In 1962, Bo Widerberg's debate book The Vision in Swedish Film appeared. He was critical of the film that had been made in Sweden, not least of all by Ingmar Bergman whom he called "Our spirit's Dala horse in the world", and his films which he likened to "... an export item filled with undisguised exoticism". The essay collection gave him a chance to direct his own film: Gustav Scheutz surprisingly offered him to make a film at Europafilm. Widerberg made his feature film debut with The Baby Carriage (1963) with colleague Jan Troell as photographer, and in the same year came Raven's End (1963), both with Thommy Berggren in the lead role. With the latter, he made several films, including the American film Joe Hill (1971).

The film Elvira Madigan (1967) received great international attention, and the lead actress Pia Degermark was awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Ådalen 31 (1969), about the Ådalen shootings in 1931 when five demonstrators were shot dead by the military, also received critical acclaim. The film won the Special Grand Prize of the Jury at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It won the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association and received multiple awards in the 6th Guldbagge Awards.

The film The Man on the Roof (1976) is pioneering Swedish crime film, known among other things for a comically stilted police dialogue and a helicopter crash in central Stockholm. It is based on the 1971 novel The Abominable Man by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. The film won two Guldbagge Awards in 1977, for Best Film and Best Actor (Håkan Serner). In 1984 came another crime film directed by Bo Widerberg, The Man from Majorca (1984), this time based on the novel The Pig Party by Leif G. W. Persson.

His last feature All Things Fair (1995), about a teacher's forbidden love affair with a student, played by her son Johan Widerberg, was awarded the Special Jury Prize Silver Bear and the Blue Angel Award at the 46th Berlin International Film Festival, the Audience Award at Gothenburg Film Festival, and 3 Guldbagge Awards. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Bo Widerberg has also directed theatre, including at Dramaten and Malmö Stadsteater, in addition to TV theater for SVT.

In 1996, he started the well-known Lilla film festival at Bio Scala in Båstad, which occurs annually at the beginning of August; what he called "the film festival of conversation and socializing" for quality film screenings and discussions in the more intimate format. In memory of the founder, the festival has been awarding the Bo Widerberg scholarship since 1997 to filmmakers who work in Widerberg's spirit.

Death and legacy[edit]

Widerberg died in Ängelholm, Sweden on 1 May 1997 of stomach cancer and was buried in the New Cemetery in Båstad. He had four children: Nina, Martin, Johan, and Matilda. Johan has become an actor and his son Martin became a director. As a child, Nina Widerberg acted in five of her father's films, including Barnvagnen and The Man on the Roof. Johan played Detective Kollberg's son in The Man on the Roof.

In conjunction with the City Tunnel in Malmö, a small plaza around the southern entrance to the train, named Bo Widerberg place, was inaugurated in 2010. The site is located near Widerberg's former residence in the city.[1]


He won a Silver Bear prize at the 46th Berlin International Film Festival for All Things Fair and a Special Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival for Ådalen 31.[2] Raven's End,[3] Ådalen 31[4] and All Things Fair all received a nominations for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. For Ådalen 31 Widerberg won the Guldbagge Award for Best Director at the 6th Guldbagge Awards.[5] For The Man on the Roof he won the award for Best Film at the 13th Guldbagge Awards.[6]

Bo Widerberg c. 1960

Filmography as director[edit]

As director[edit]



  1. ^ "Bo Widerberg hyllas i Malmö". 2 September 2010.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Ådalen 31". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
  3. ^ "The 37th Academy Awards (1965) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  4. ^ "The 42nd Academy Awards (1970) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  5. ^ "Ådalen 31 (1969)". Swedish Film Institute. 2 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Mannen på taket (1976)". Swedish Film Institute. 7 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Bo Widerberg - SFdb" (in Swedish). 1930-06-08. Retrieved 2023-11-11.

External links[edit]

Media related to Bo Widerberg at Wikimedia Commons