Jurn Johan Donner (born 5 February 1933, Finland) is a Swedish-speaking Finnish writer, director, actor, producer, politician, and founder of the Finnish Film Archive.
He served as director of the Swedish Film Institute. In 1979, he was a member of the jury at the 29th Berlin International Film Festival. Internationally Donner is best known as the producer of Ingmar Bergman’s film Fanny and Alexander. In 1984, the movie won a total of four Academy Awards including the award for best foreign language film, making him to date the only Finn to receive an Oscar. His novel Father and Son won the Finlandia Prize in 1985.
Donner has been associated with several different political parties, and has at times been a member both of the Finnish Parliament and the European Parliament. As of 2007, he was again a member of the Finnish Parliament.
In an exclusive interview with the Press Office of Fajr, he talked about his experience with Bergman and his advice to young filmmakers:
When did you visit Iran for the first time?
I visited Iran for the first time about 43 years ago. I don’t know that much about your country now. I went to several bookshops on Enghelab Avenue and got surprised to find so many English language books, even classic ones by Charles Dickens. That was interesting.
You’ve been working in cinema for more than 60 years. How do you see the Iranian cinema?
I really don’t know that much about your cinema. I told the audience here the only Iranian film I watched was Taxi Tehran, which was not even screened in your own cinemas. Of course, I know Abbas Kiarostami and I like him, but his films are from many years ago. I know too little about Iranian films. I hope to be able to see some of them here at the festival.
Any advice to young filmmakers?
Remember, you can have some advice from me, but ignore it. Be yourself and do what you love. There is no reason for me to advice young film makers here because they can and they should do only what they feel themselves doing. Never take advice from anyone. There are no rules here.
Bergman is known as a great film maker in Iran, and you worked with him. Anything about him you might want to share with us?
I have one word for Bergman and that is perseverance, hard work, and going on despite the hardship.
Presided over by writer-director Reza Mirkarimi, the 36th edition of Fajr International Film Festival runs in Charsou Cineplex and other venues in Tehran until April 27. The organizers are receiving over 300 special guests, ranging from filmmakers to screenwriters, actors to critics and scholars. A-listers American director Oliver Stone and Italian actor Franco Nero are attending right now.