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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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Talking Turkey in London

Opening lunch in SOFRA off Oxford Street   film director Mustafa  Karadeniz on right Jean-Marc Barr

Turkish Coffee Phillip Bergson with director of Yunus Emre Institute London Dr Mehmet Karakus, film week opening director Mustafa Karadeniz and Jean Marc Barr.

Photos credits: Ayse  Goksen Yucel 

A capacity crowd swarmed along the Strand and into the capacious and comfortable Arthur and Paula Lucas Theatre deep within King's College, next to the Thames, for the Opening of the London Turkish Film Week, a valiant taster of Turkey before Christmas.Seven screenings bring a rich cross-section of new and recent films from the land of the Bosphorus, in the wake  of the well-received local release of Cannes entry The Wild Pear Tree by New Wave Films in sundry art-house cinemas across Albion. Nuri Bilge Ceylan's previous film Winter Sleep, prized with the Golden Palm,will be revived for the Saturday matinee on the very big screen.(at 2.30pm on December 15th).

If the opening film Cinar- Plane Tree suggests some influence from Ceylan (though less wordy),it marks an auspicious debut from the director Mustafa Karadeniz, who has transformed painfully felt memories from his own life (struck by polio, he was carried by his mother on her back to primary school) and a local story into a mesmerising contemporary fable of family hardships redeemed by the power of love, nourished in a bitter snowswept landscape beyond Kars, in the east of Turkey. The hardship of the terrain and the frugal lives eked out by the  central trio barely seem to belong to the contemporary world, where the horse still rivals the car for transport, and the nearby village and further town offer little  spiritual sustenance with their apparently material benefits.

If life is bleak  it is memorably caught in the brilliant wide-screen colour photography which subtly places the characters-and some animals-in their harsh landscapes.(The crew was apparently stalked by wolves during the shooting!).A youngish couple are devoted to their disabled son( a radiant performance by Yunus Emre whose sweet smile lights up every one of his scenes).His mother literally carries him to the school through the snows while her husband,clearly doting on the lad, works as driver and general dogs-body for a local pompous bureaucrat who dreams to become Governor. Wood is chopped, meals are cooked, a grandmother falls ill and dies, yet every sequence is rich in emotional action and truth and gradually the mosaic of human existence shines with its contrasts and conflicts.An traffic accident leads to a revelation in the nearby hospital of an earlier tragic error that has the aura and  resonance of  something from Ancient Greek Drama.But the  denouement,though unexpected and full of  hope,has  the audience in tears.

With a background in commercials, and  a modest budget, 3 professional actors and a wealth of well-chosen "real people" , Mustafa Karadeniz has fashioned a precious miniature, sparkling and unforgettable, set in a specific place that becomes a universal portrait of how to live if not well,or wisely, but hopefully ever after. Truly,an emotion picture, well-paced, quiet,yet with great resonance.Like a pebble cast in a fish-pool, its ripples spread far and wide.

The film was screened in the Antalya Film Festival in October and has had some 20 galas around the globe, as it journeys around the festival circuit.An enthusiastic discussion with the director followed its UK premiere,which was attended by his own mother and family members.

The London Turkish Film Week continues until  16th December 2018.  Screening details on Facebook   pages of Yunus Emre Institute London     # LTWF2018

Phillip Bergson

About Phillip Bergson

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