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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



Polishing up Polish Cinema

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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),Workshops and even a Supper Club.

Again capably curated by Marlena Lukasiak, of the Polish Cultural Institute with her lively young team and enthusiastically supported by the Polish Embassy (where the lately-landed ambassadorial  spouse is evidently something of a cinephile), the Festival runs from 7th to 29th March 2018 and although there was apparently no Press Launch, and programmes are not being despatched elsewhere around the Kingdom as in past years, it has spread to different venues across the capital.A moving Opening Gala was held in what some of us still call NFT 1-the larger and recently refurbished cinema in the  BFI Southbank, with the local  premiere of Birds are Singing in Kigali, and a discussion with Joanna Kos-Krauze,in the sad absence of her late husband and co-director Kryzystof Krauze. Set after the Rwandan genocide of 1994, it focusses on the efforts of a Polish ornithologist to save a local Tutsi woman, and when they are unable to settle in Poland they return to the riven country full of fragile hope. The film eloquently expressed the Krauzes' own knowledge of Africa and also bears witness to the new interests of the contemporary Polish cinema, sharing wider pan-European and indeed global visions. Screenings have been held in Britain's very first home for flickering images, the marvellous  Regent Street Cinema, as well as in one of London's newest and most luxurious mini-cinemas the JW3 (inside the recently-opened Jewish Cultural Centre on Finchley Road) with some historic features screened in the legendary Polish Hearth Club- Ognisko Polskie- the South Kensington home of the Polish Government-in-exile during the Second World War (and again today a delicious restaurant and bar).

In Notting Hill's The Coronet (itself until lately an historic cinema) stage and film works based on the writings of Bruno Schulz have been on show.The Festival  again closes in the Barbican, this time in the labyrinthine arts complex's subterranean Cinema 1,  with a digitally restored silent film from 1927 The Call of the Sea with a specially composed new live score.

For the opening night party there was real discovery in the use of an exquisitely decorated semi-secret library--type hospitality room nestling near the public  bar and restaurant in the BFI Southbank, accessible almost in C.S.Lewis fashion.

One hopes for a similarly original festive  farewell somewhere in the bowels of the Barbican tonight!

Phillip Bergson