Gunnel Lindblom in a still from Loving Couples (1964)
Gunnel Lindblom in a still from Loving Couples (1964)
Loving Couples (1964)

ACMI presents

Loving Couples

Älskande par

Mai Zetterling | Sweden | 1964 | Unclassified (18+)

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Thu 1 Jul - Sun 11 Jul 2021

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One of the most ambitious debuts since Citizen Kane.

Kenneth Tynan (The Observer)

Mai Zetterling’s feature film debut as director weaves together the lives of three women, each reflecting on their personal and sexual lives as they arrive at a maternity ward.

With whispers of the first World War in the air, three pregnant women arrive at a maternity ward in Stockholm. In their anxious, in-hospital stasis, the women reflect on their lives: their childhoods, their personal lives, and their sexual experiences. Each of their lives intersect at a midsummer celebration – a sunlit night where the light shines on the liminal moments that sent their lives in new and divergent directions.

Based on a literary series, The Misses von Pahlen, by Swedish novelist Agnes von Krusenstjerna whose novels shocked Swedish readers and triggered a national debate on free speech, Mai Zetterling’s adaptation caused controversies of its own, from its poster that was banned at the Cannes Film Festival – the silhouettes of figures in the throes of passion.

After its release in Sweden, Loving Couples screened in competition at the 18th Cannes Film Festival. Mai Zetterling was the only female director to have a film in competition that year, and only the sixth female director to have a feature in competition up to that point.

–Reece Goodwin, Curator (TV & Special Events)

Format: DCP
Language: Swedish with English subtitles
Source: Swedish Film Institute
Courtesy: Janus Films
Runtime: 118 mins

Event duration

118 mins


Unclassified (18+)


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Screens with

The War Game (1963)

In a stark apartment building, two children begin to playfully fight over a gun. As the tussle begins to escalate from play to something more serious, their fight takes them higher up the building where the intensity of their conflict is mirrored by the increasing danger of their surrounds.

Mai Zetterling | 15 mins | UK | English | Courtesy of the Mai Zetterling Estate

The War Game.jpg

Gemini Rising: The Cinema of Mai Zetterling

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The birth of a cinematic colossus

Mai Zetterling and her ‘Loving Couples’

Through a combination of industriousness and talent, the Swedish auteur broke through social and structural barriers of the time to direct her poetic, 'ambitious' debut feature.

Mai Zetterling

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