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Phillip Bergson

Writing about Films and Festivals.


Film Critic, UK,Invited Member  of  The UK Critics' Circle

FIPRESCI abd the European Film Academy.

Visiting Lecturer, Prague Film School.


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",The Spectator,film critic on "The Sunday Standard", "Screen International",Variety, "Film Bulletin", "Film a Doba" inter alia, and on the FilmFestJOURNAL in Berlin and Screen Dailies at Cannes,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 and is.Casting Consultant on several international features. At the National  Museum of Photography, Film and Television, in his native Yorkshire, he created the "Eurovisions" project, to promote classic and contemporary European cinema,which was inaugurated at the Cine Lumiere in London by His Excellency the President of Iceland.

Presenter and Programmer,London Turkish Film Week, December 2018

Co=programmer, 2nd London Turkish Film Week, April 2019

Artistic Director, 3rd London Turkish Film Week, planned for 1-7 June 2020.

As a FIPRESCI Jury Member

and a member of  International Juries at

Thessaloniki, Europa Cinema (Rimini), Munich Documentary, Manaki Brothers,Cine Jove (Valencia),Chicago, TIFF-ODA


One Final Gaudy Night in Mannheim

Well, the weather held and so did the quality of the films as the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival wound up, rather than down ,towards its 59th Awards Ceremony.Audiences seemed to increase in number and enthusiasm during these unusually  balmy November days and the nightly drinks receptions for lucky invitees saw sparkling German wines and beer pouring as if there was no tomorrow well into tomorrow, with  on one occasion-well past 2am local time-most of the Festival Direction and a merry troupe of foreign scribes  almost locked in the Mannheim Stadthaus for the night!The  Tuesday lunchtime reception hosted in honour of the Ecumenical Jury (at I believe the Catholic local chapter-house, as it were) proved to be far from economical in terms of the quality of the wines and sandwiches offered, and the traditional Festival Party held mid-week in the new capacious tents pitched in front of the Heidelberg Castle offered a welcome excursionto and through and over  that lovely historic city of learning, and a trip on a very impressive  cable-car up and inside the Heidelberg hill.

Happily, in spite of an afternoon away at the University of Mainz to deliver an ad hoc lecture on 'British History in British Cinema' to some 130 lucky students, I managed to see all but one of the prized features, and to agree with more than most of the awards on the night of the 2st November, 2010. The main auditorium of the Stadthaus was comfortably crowded and the ceremony proceeded with dignity and clips from all of the competing and successful films.I was glad that Eva y Lola (Eva and Lola) by the lovely Sabrina Farji won the Audience Prize, but  with a typical example of this festival's fairness, the excellent Danish film Hold Om Mig (Hold Me Tight) apparently came so close to it in cast ballots that it was given a nearly ex-aequo  and its director Kaspar Munk made a charming onstage Dankeschoen, and quickly had to return to the platform to pick up his well-deserved Ecumenical Film Prize.

The Jury of Cinema Owners made 3 very pertinent 'Recommendations', for Planes para Manana(Plans for Tomorrow, a tale of five females in Madrid by Juana Macias),Win/Win(the Dutch treat I had previously recommended, by Jaap van Heusden),and Till det som ar vackert(Pure, directed by Lisa Lanseth), which also received the Special Mention from the International Jury, as did Nelofer Pazira's Act of Dishonour.

The Special Award of the International Jury I am delighted to say went to dear Ahmet Boyacioglu's delightful  Siyah Beyaz (Black and White), set in that Ankara bar ,and the director made an appropriately dignified speech of appreciation for the honour. The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Prize went to the remarkable Xun Huan Zuo Le(The High Life) by the innovative Zhao Dayong, who not only told an unusual story of some low life in very contemporary China but did it in an original and compelling way.The film also won the FIPRESCI Prize, but although the president of the international critics' jury made a spirited speech on the stage ,highlighting this as the 50th such FIPRESCI award given at Mannheim, there was some minor confusion when it emerged later  that this film had already received the same award at Hong Kong earlier this year, and even if the new rules of FIPRESCI mean this may now be technically allowable,to my mind,with a certain experience as a FIPRESCI member myself,it should not be.

The top award of the jury went to the startling, effective if essentially grim French- Canadian borstal drama 10.1/2(Ten and a half- the age of the troubled and troubling protagonist),directed by Daniel Grou. The night continued with selected award-winners being screened for the public in various auditoria around Mannheim and Heidelberg ,while the fortunate festivaliers could repair to choose between two tasty hot soups, open sandwiches and an open bar of wines and beer.But with early morning depatures on the day the German media had announced, according to well-placed rumours, terror-attacks were threatened across the country, few I  think prolonged their last night in the Stadthaus. Before dawn even illuminated the Hotel Wartburg i said  farewell to it ,perhaps for the last time (unless some financier saves it for the future), and as the  festival shuttle-bus made the rounds of the other hotels (an extra time in  one case, as a certain Irish co-producer had apparently not adjusted his clock),a motley crew headed towards Frankfurt Airport.In spite of- perhaps thanks to -the stories of terror anschlag, I checked in at KLM in less than 5 minutes in a near deserted Terminal 2,and was even through X-ray machines in another 5.My  first flight was delayed 70 minutes, for technical reasons,but no act of terrorism seems to have been recorded across Europe that day.I -and my luggage -duly reached a Heathrow admittedly swarming with police, many more of whom  also seemed to be in evidence across London Transport.But at least  my little apartment seemed to be relatively intact, and the heating system had not yet struck back.The omens are good for Mannheim to celebrate turning 60 next November, hoffentlich!

Phillip Bergson

About Phillip Bergson