Sweden 1968, Feature film, 100' | Director Mai Zetterling | DoP Rune Ericson | Editor Wic Kjellin | Sound Bob Allen | Music Michael Hurd | Cast Bibi Andersson, Harriet Anderssen, Gunnel Lindblom and others | Production Sandrews Metronome International | Distribution Svenska Filminstitutet

“When the reviews appeared for my first full-length feature film, I was horrified to read: 'Mai Zetterling directs like a man!' What’s that supposed to mean?" Mai Zetterling in her autobiography All jene Tage [All Those Days] A group of actors is rehearsing Aristophanes’ drama Lysistrata, in which a sexual boycott – as a means against war – and the equality of the sexes is declared. The more the main protagonists Liz, Marianne and Gunilla become immersed in their roles, the more their illusions and dreams become mixed up in outside reality. During the tour, they gradually become more conscious of the link between their stage roles and their situation in real life as women. Attempts at making contact with the audience, to discuss the message of the play, are unsuccessful. Is it possible to alter the people and the world in which we live? There is a party to celebrate the end of the tour, finishing with the image of dancing guests – in grotesquely distorted mirror images.

Considered a flop back then, today the film is regarded as one of the first and most committed works of feminist film.


Swedish actress, director and writer Mai Zetterling was born in 1925. When only 17, she was accepted by the Royal Acting School for dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. She had her first role while she was still studying. With her portrayal of Bertha in Hets (Torment, 1944), she wrote film history together with director Alf Sjöberg and the young scriptwriter Ingmar Bergman. From 1948, she played theatre and film roles in England. In 1953, she played opposite Danny Kaye in Knock on Wood, but then turned her back on Hollywood. Since the 60s, she has written screenplays and directed. Her anti-war short film The War Game won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival in 1963. Zetterling’s later films often deal with the loneliness of women and their sexual obsessions. In 1966, Nattlek (Night Games), based on her own novel, was excluded from competition in Venice because of its all too drastic scenes. Her last appearance as an actress was in Nicolas Roeg’s The Witches (1989) and in Ken Loach’s Hidden Agenda (1990). Zetterling died in 1994 in London.

Mai Zetterling
Feature Film
Focus: Freedom