Visionary filmmaker Rolf Forsberg was born on July 12, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois. His early career was rooted in the theatrical world as a writer and director until life took a wildly unimaginable turn when Forsberg was commissioned to write and direct a motion picture for the Protestant and Orthodox Pavilion of the 1964 New York World's Fair.
The result was Parable, an allegory that imagined the world as a circus redeemed by a Christ-like figure portrayed as a clown.
Officials of the fair tried vigorously to ban the film from being shown, but Parable was shown again and again during 1964 and 1965 to appreciative audiences
and substantial critical acclaim.
Parable won numerous awards including a Gold Lion from the Venice International Film Festival, a Hugo from the Chicago International Film Festival, and a citation from Cannes.
Parable helped influence Christian filmmakers to rethink traditional storytelling approaches
with overt preaching and take their work to higher artistic and creative levels. Examples are Godspell and
Jesus Christ Superstar.
In 2012, Parable was added to the National Film Registry, which annually honors "Distinguished achievements in filmmaking considered of enduring importance to American culture."
With Parable, Rolf Forsberg had redefined the concept of the "church film" and set the stage for creating many more bold and often mind-boggling cinematic experiences,
including Ark, The Antkeeper, Stalked, Peace Child, and others.
Mark Quigley, UCLA Film & Television Archive, wrote this about Forsberg:
"At mid-century, when once mighty religious institutions such as the Lutheran church saw their pulpits unsuccessfully competing with mass media for minds and hearts,
Forsberg tapped the primal, collective subconscious and conjured light and shadow to project the Gospel with allegory, enigmatic symbolism and poetic lyricism, boldly
confronting souls in ways previously unimagined."
Rolf Forsberg died on Thursday morning, Feb 16, 2017. He never stopped working at the craft that he loved, and was working a deadline on a writing project, pounding on his
keyboard right up until the end. Cause of death was undiagnosed internal bleeding.
During the year preceding his sudden passing, Rolf relished the opportunity to fully participate in the restoration of Parable and the editing decisions for each of the four
films included in the Rolf Forsberg Legacy Collection Vol 1. Rolf wanted to create for his family a video memoir of his life's work. Shortly prior to his passing Rolf wrote and
narrated a 19-min slideshow that was produced by his friend, photographer Ian Campbell. Rolf was very pleased with the outcome
and you can watch the presentation below: