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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

 


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Odd Man In

During the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, in a milder English heatwave, the marvellous Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image, in the heart of London's Bloomsbury, celebrated one of the greatest English actors with a Focus on James Mason (26th May 2018). In this most recently created institute, a part of the University of London, it takes over a splendid, purpose-built cinema, one of the few in the capital still capable of screening 35mm prints, and programmes some 70 fi...

Sunny start in Athens of the North

The sun shines down on the 72nd Edinburgh International Film Festival with large and enthusiastic audiences in new venues in an annual event (it has the longest unbroken record of any large scale film festival in the world) that has moved away from its traditional berth as part of the largest arts festival in the world (which fills the elegant capital of Scotland every August where prices, certainly for accommodation, rival those at Cannes) to become a stand-alone event now unreeling in late J...

Spring in the airs

Another underground venue in London's West End, not exactly for films but very film-related is  the fabulous  Art Deco cabaret bar called The Crazy Coqs in the bowels of what used to be the largest hotel in the world, the Regent Palace, off Piccadilly Circus in the very centre of London's film and theatre scene. Now transformed into the Brasserie Zedel but retaining many of the original period decorations it provides an intimate but comfortable venue for living lege...

A rage on the stage

"It's the pictures that got small" snarled Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. But that small screen in the corner of rooms around the world screening Game of Thrones ensures a mercurial,internationality for any actor cast in the fan-fascinating series.As Loboda in Series 5, the brilliant Bulgarian actor Zachary Bacharov, a lofty Leo,shaven-headed but with a winning smile, has probably been seen by more viewers around the world, that have ever bought tick...

Figures in a LANDSCAPE Exhibition

As part of the celebrations marking its 250th anniversary  as a teaching venue, the Royal Academy on London's Piccadilly has undergone some extensive, if not eccentric , renovations and refurbishing of adjacent parts of the building,sadly not  equipping its new Lecture Theatre with adequate facilities for screening cinema productions that could enhance the changing art displays or become a destination in itself  as that famous street is now utterly bereft of any pu...

SERET:Sabras a go go

While much of the international film world was cavorting across the Croisette, confused and often rain-swept, and desperately seeking empowerment for female cineastes on and off the screens of the largest festival in the world, where who knows how few of les femmes have received the Palme d'Or (apart from the Down Under champion Jane Campion?), once more with feeling the Israeli Film Festival  known as Seret was again unreeling in apparently sunnier Albio...

Cherchez les Femmes!

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In such grim times, and with such over-budgeted but under-scripted movies hurtling into cinemas around the globe, what a delight Picturehouses brought across the troubled British Isles last night with nation-wide previews in their lovingly-run cinemas -for One Night Only- of a simply marvellous new  documentary Nothing Like a Dame (83 minutes, co-produced by BBC TV and due for subsequent cinema outings in due course).Roger Michell has fashioned a fascinating and frequent...

Polishing up Polish Cinema

Easter comes early to the not-so-United Kingdom this year, and so has KINOTEKA which has brought for its 16th annual Edition a  cornucopia of features, shorts and documentaries of Polish provenance or connection,  as well as events, exhibitions, Master Classes (with  Krzystof  Zanussi, a true master of film-making returning from Warsaw to present his  very first feature The Structure of Crystals, made in 1969, and to discuss his work in the ICA),Workshop...

Russian about Town

It could hardly be a more topical time, given the international brouhahas in the media about Soviet cyberhacking and the alleged,well-funded if unsubtle  interference of Putinistas in elections around the globe for a second Russian Filmweek to be unleashed on an unsuspecting London.....the Brexiting metropolis whose only daily newspapers are now owned by a Russian plutocrat who also happens to run  the only full-time local TV  channel(which,incidentally, currently prog...

Frying tonight!

Though based in High Wycombe ,the Third Edition of the highly independent Fisheye Film Festival ventures to nearby Beaconsfield tonight with a special screening inside the cinema of the famed National Film and Television School (recently complimented in the Hollywood Reporter as the top international film school) of the remarkable and multi-award-winning strange romance God's Own Country. The film has just won another two top awards, at the Dinard Festival of...

"The Jungle" film launches tonight with Red Cross Charity Premiere in the West End of London

One of the most remarkable British directing debuts of this or any year, In Another Life is a swiftly-paced,convincingly acted and utterly involving recreation of the struggles of a handful of refugees trapped in the "Jungle" camp near Calais. Directed with flair,finesse and dignity by Jason Wingarde it has credibly woven from clearly personal,true stories a fictionalised story of flight and pursuit and optimism, blending a multi-racial cast of highly capable professional actors...

Fasten your Seat-belts - Raindance is taking off tonight!

In characteristic contrast to the ever-earlier Launch of the BFI London Film Festival, held (on 31st August 2017) in the terror-attack capital's largest cinema, which was awash with sponsor's mineral waters and organic chocolate bars as countless clips and trailers unreeled after breakfast, the Raindance Film Festival hosted a week of press previews in one of the tinest but toniest of screening rooms in the West End, in the lower floor of the Virgin lounge on the Haymarket, where there...

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

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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...

Cancaneando

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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...

Cannes-cannes-eando

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. -...

WELCOME CROATIAN CINEMA

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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,  &...

WELCOME CROATIAN CINEMA

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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

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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...
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