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Phillip Bergson

Writing about Films and Festivals.


Film Critic, UK, member of Fipresci


Winner of the Student Journalist of the Year competition in the UK weekly New Statesman, as a Classics Scholar Phillip Bergson then founded the Oxford Film Festival and, on graduating, was selected by "The Sunday Times" as a 'New Critic' and in the same week began broadcasting on film for many BBC Radio programmes. A contributor to the "Times Literary Supplement", "TES", "Screen International", "Film Bulletin", "Film a Doba" inter alia, he also worked for the "European Script Fund", has scripted shorts and features (that have been produced and released) and, fluent in eight-and-a-half languages, currently programmes and advises several international film festivals. At the National Media Museum in his native Yorkshire, he created the "Eurovisions" project, to promote classic and contemporary European cinema.

As a Jury Member



On the Kindness of Strangers

There is another White House, an iconic apartment-house opened in  1936,and now a listed building, in bustling Marylebone, close to Regent's Park in the centre of London, and opposite the site of the Diorama, a fore-runner of cinema, which employed candle-light on huge paintings, with audiences literally moved around a flexible,arena-like space.Adjacent in Albany Street was another celebrated Victorian attraction, the Colosseum, constructed in the  1820s to house &qu...

Curtain up on Iron Curtain films!

Almost in defiance of the impending gloom of Brexit, London continues to host a plethora of European film events, national film-weeks and a variety of cultural cinematic gatherings, screenings and mini-festivals, sometimes on Embassy premises or in other non-cinema venues. Currently, on one of the capital's smartest streets in merry Marylebone, and more or less opposite the ever-busy  entrance to one of London's film-starriest hostelries, the Chiltern Firehouse, is a most unusua...

Postcards from Blighty

        Not only the not-so-very United Kingdom is facing crises of identity and culture-clashes currently, in the months apres-BREXIT and avant the various elections looming across Europe, but the cinema itself seems to be going thr...

Animated Closing Gala at 15th Kinoteka in Londyn

Following a string of contemporary and classic Polish film screenings in a variety of venues across London, the 15th  Kinoteka came to a spectacular close in the labyrinthine Barbican Centre (on Wednesday  5th April, 2017).This annual Polish Film Festival always creates something original,besides the usual programmes of features and documentaries, workshops and presentations-  another  on-screen logo by the local Quay Brothers, and this year Kinoteka  commissioned new sc...

Polish Films Spring into London at the 15th Kinoteka

The Polish Film Spring came early into London this year, as Kinoteka unreeled, for the 15th time, from 17th March to 5th April, 2017,in various venues across the capital, presenting new and classic features and shorts, documentaries and animations, with workshops,talks,master-classes, art, music, a dinner,and a plethora of tasty Polish cakes. It is quite literally a rich programme, capably curated as ever by movie-mad Marlena Lukasiak, and her old and new colleagues in the Polis...

Short shorts - Kalinin Calling!

More than a visual visiting card for a young or debuting film-maker, the short film should be a work of cinematic art in its own right, comparable to the stories of Guy de Maupassant or the exquisite etudes of Frederic Chopin. It is fascinating to view the graduation pieces or early narrative films by established directors, where often their look, style, techniques, and continuing concerns can be discerned in embryo form, and would be developed in future feature films.The film festivals are th...


My arrival in Cannes was unusually smooth, having found- only days before travelling- a return flight on British Airways that was somehow cheaper in sogenannt Club Europe than in Economy Class (albeit it to and from Gatwick- where the only BA lounge still open after 3pm was surprisingly well-stocked). After the usual diplomatically-ignored delays, we arrived more or less on time, on the eve of the festival, and although Nice Airport's carousel threatened a 57 minute wait for my luggage, the...

White Nights on the Black Sea

  The Romania International Film Festival celebrated its 10th edition with a hot and wild new location, the famous -if not notorious party-beach resort of Vama Veche, a mile away from the border with Bulgaria.A kind of Felliniesque (think -Satyricon rather than La Dolce Vita)holiday rendezvous for the not-too-gilded youth of Central Europe its vibrant music and drinks-fuelled atmosphere makes the revels of the Karlovy Vary Festival seem like a vicars' tea-party,with the dress se...


Jean-Marc Thérouanne Festival de Vesoul   If you go down on the beach today may 21st - de cinq a sept- you're sure of a big surprise.....the biggest clutch of film festival directors in one party.. All summoned by FilmFestivals.Com supremo Bruno Chatelin  -for it is he- to the most truly international bring-a-bottle party you ever might see. This traditional Cannes rendez-vous  is jointly hosted by that maven of the Black Nights of Tallinn - Madame Tina L. -...


Although the country of Croatia, which acceded to the European Union on July Ist this year, is not large in land it has a seemingly infinite number of islands,and, although its current production of feature films does not exceed a couple of dozen annually, there seem to be almost as many film festivals of varying size and content held regularly within its borders. The exquisite capital, Zagreb, a compact and seductive Hapsburg metropolis (its so- -called, if somewhat misnamed,  &...


Although the country of Croatia, which acceded to the European Union on July Ist this year, is not large in land it has a seemingly infinite number of islands,and, although its current production of feature films does not exceed a couple of dozen annually, there seem to be almost as many film festivals of varying size and content held regularly within its borders. The exquisite capital, Zagreb, a compact and seductive Hapsburg metropolis (its so- -called, if somewhat misnamed,  &...

LFA 10th Birthday and Future Talents Showcase

There were plenty of tricks and treats at the 10th Anniversary  and Graduate Showcase of the London Film Academy, with a well-attended screening in the recently-refurbished NFT 1, the largest auditorium in what we are now encouraged to call the BFI Southbank, overlooking the Thames ,on Hallowe'en (31st October 2012).A dozen shorts of varied styles and contents demonstrated how well this commercial film-school in leafy Fulham has been developing under the dynamic duo who founded it...

Back to Byzantium: Turkish Delights at the 31st Instanbul Film Festival

Whatever name you call it- Constantinople or Byzantium- or however you spell it    (Graham Greene's Orient Express-connected novel, also filmed, styled it Stamboul Train), modern Istanbul is unquestionably a world city, a beautiful bustling megalopolis, literally joining Asia to Europe, and the only capital that has a leg in two continents. A fascinating fusion of ancient, medieval, religious and secular architecture and cultures, cuisine and  and stylish contemporary design and fashion, w...

Reflections on a Golden Lens

Nomen est omen - what's in a name? I have to title the homeland of the marvellous Manaki Brothers International Cinematographers Film Festival with considerable care, as the Artistic  Director of this fine but moveable feast of film in Balkan Bitola already bollocked me for locating it in what we in the EU are obliged to call FYROM, and which my Grecian friends will be equally horrified if I style simply  the Republic of Macedonia.(Indeed, it was the much-missed movie magnate ...

FEST begins at 40!

What makes a festival successful? Great films and great audiences, and Belgrade's 40th FEST had both in spades- indeed, the event was such a hit, it was extended by a day to accommodate a last-minute regional premiere for The Artist, fresh from its triumph at the Oscars in Hollywood(and in keeping with its immaculate organisation, there was even an advance press screening of the French 'surprise' gift to Belgrade's enormous audiences. For the event is centred in what must be one of...

Everything's Coming Up Docs!

Suddenly this summer documentary festivals seem to be mushrooming across England.On the eve of Cannes I attended a crowded croissants and coffees Launch for the Sheffield DocFest, in the smart offices of the The Guardian newspaper in Kings Place, on the fast-developing side of the Kings Cross railway station.It was a very professional presentation by the Festival Board and programmers with many clips of selected entries, and ample footage of previous festivals which seem to have filled t...

A Night at the Opera

I go back quite a way with Gaius Caligula....having studied his crazed life and inevitable death when I was  a Classics Scholar at Balliol, and read his first 'biog'in Latin, what more natural  than that ,during  my third excursion to cover Cannes (for BBC radio and other media), I should have been invited by Andre Previn's movie-exec brother to attend the   very secret and first presentation in the world of the full-length, unexpurgated  film version of Caligula.It was an off-Marke...

Addio, Virginia Dignam

It was a gloriously sunny day but there was a capacity crowd in the East Chapel in Golders Green Crematorium, in north London, for the Celebration of your life, Virginia Dignam, sometime actress, published poetess, film reviewer on  The Morning Star, and long-serving hard-working Honorary Secretary of the UK Critics' Circle("a shrivel of critics" you used to call us, in your pert and often impertinent way).It would have been your 87th birthday, but you'd left us, after a sudden, sh...

Postcards from the "B" Festivals

A curious coincidence seems to have confined me, so far in unseasonal 2012, to attending international film festivals in cities beginning with a B!  This is not to say that any one of them is a B-Festival (we know, pace F.I.A.P.F., that the world of 613-4,000 festivals is not really divided into 'A' category and 'B' category events) but even though --for the first time-- I missed the Berlinale, for a variety of reasons (though I did manage to preview it on BBC World Service Radio from London,...

Kiwis Launch Film Festival in London

The first of the month saw another first for the  Barbican Arts Centre, nestling in the City of London, as it hosted the first New Zealand Film Festival in its capacious Cinema 1 (from 1-3 July, 2011). Timed to coincide with the City of London's arts festival which takes Oceania as its focus for a continuing season of recitals,lectures and large-scale concerts in a number of historic venues, the opening night was spectacularly successful with a memorable pre-film reception in the Barbican's ...

Dancing with Dolphins in Festroia

The Portuguese already had their earthquake and somehow managed to survive and rebuild most of Lisbon since 1755. Although there was a little tremor during the week (about two-and-a-half on the Svetoslav Richter scale, or however it is called when measuring how much the earth moved for you), the otherwise sunny city of Setubal, one of Portugal's  most important port-resorts and home of the poet Bocage,manages to mount the 27th edition of the international film festival Festroia surmounting ma...

London Leads in Doc Wars

Suddenly, everything's coming up doc-fests. Munich's has just ended (a well-run event organised in the famous  Film Museum and other  gemuetlich venues around the Bavarian capital since 1991), Sheffield's has just announced the complete programme for its event which  moves dates from autumn to next month, and the now stand-alone Edinburgh International Film Festival, with its new team and slenderer budget, returns to its post-war orgins with a strong focus on the documentary for its 65th...

Poles Apart Again

Probably the most successful of the still-sustained 'national' film festivals that flourish, with greater and lesser degrees of success in London and around the British Isles (dare I still call them that without fear of political uncorrectness?) is Kinoteka, which celebrated its 9th edition from 24th March to 13th April, 2011.(Since the German Film Weeks are now but a fond memory, this Polish filmic-extravaganza now surely takes the crown, in the face of all kinds of film 'festivals' that vie...

Short but sweet

When you are summoned to a hospital club, you might be more than a little apprehensive.But an invitation to a screening at The Hospital Club, a sumptuous private members art-hot-house nestling between Drury Lane and Covent Garden ,in the heart of London ,is  a rather more appetising prospect, and means you are to be treated to a screening of a film, and not subjected to a medical investigation.  Thusly , on the evening of Monday 21st March 2011, the pleasure was magnified when the film in ...