When I was 10 or 11 years old, our local PBS station ran a film festival all summer, a different Ingmar Bergman film every week. I had never heard of him, of course, but as soon as I watched one film, I was hooked. I ate it up: Wild Strawberries, Monika, The Devil's Eye, Smiles of a Summer Night, Through A Glass Darkly, Persona, The Silence...
Over the years, although I never thought of him as my favorite director, I followed his work and he continued to be a big influence on me as an artist.
Most of all, that summer when I was a kid, his films let me know that the oddities of my household were real, not imagined, and that other people lived with secrets and lies as well. Just that little bit of knowledge, that I was not the only one, that pain could be something that linked me with the rest of the world instead of separating me from it, was enough to keep me going.
For that, I cannot offer enough gratitude.