Norwegian author Linn Ullmann, who grew up with film thanks to famous parents in the business, told reporters this week she was “honored” to be part of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival that will choose the prestigious Palme d’Or prize.
“I’m honored to be here and am a great admirer of all the others on the jury,” she said. The jury is headed by actor, director and producer Robert de Niro and also includes actress Uma Thurman of the US, actress and producer Martina Gusman of Argentina, producer Nansun Shi of China, director Olivier Assayas of France, actor Jude Law of the UK, director Mahamat Saleh Haroun of Chad and director Johnnie To of Hong Kong.
Ullmann, age 44, is the daughter of Norwegian actress and director Liv Ullmann and the late film Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. She credited her father for her immersion in film as a child.
In Norway, she claimed, everyone goes skiing with their fathers but her father never took her out on the trails. Instead, she said, he took her into his little cinema and showed her two films every day during the summers she spent with him. That started when she was a young girl and continued until just before he died.
“He’d always turn to me and say, ‘this is your education,'” she told reporters in Cannes.
It’s won her a place on the Cannes jury. She said that by the time the festival concludes on May 22, everyone attending will a little different, hopefully also wiser, after seeing 20 films. She called film “a wonderful combination” of light, cinematography, direction and language that engages all the senses and intellect.
It’s as an author that Ullmann, though, has made a name for herself. She was born in Oslo but spent much of her youth in New York and graduated from New York University. Her first novel, Before you sleep, won critical acclaim when it was published in 1998 and she’s written three since: Stella Descending, Grace and A Blessed Child, which was short-listed for Norway’s Brage literature prize. Ullmann also has worked as a columnist for Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten and as a literary critic. She was instrumental in turning her father’s former home on the Swedish island of Fårö into an international artist residency foundation.
Two Norwegian directors, meanwhile, won spots for their films at the Cannes festival this year: Joachim Trier for his film Oslo, August 31st, in the Un Certain Regard category, and Lisa Marie Gamlem for her short film Kjøttsår (Cold). The festival runs until May 22.