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Phillip Bergson

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...

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

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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...

FEST begins at 40!

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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...

The Grossmann report and awards

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Alex Chandon (INBRED)  Jaume Balaguero (SLEEP TIGHT) For the first time the International Jury split the top award of Vicious Cat  at the Grossmann Fantastic Festival of Film and Wine. A notably strong feature competition marked the 8th edition of this lively event held in Ljutomer, centre of sultry Slovenia's famed wine region, with soaring temperatures and growing audiences, encouraged by the status of nearby Maribor as "European Capital of Culture". Jaume ...

Awards of the 8th Grossmann Fantastic Film and Wine Festival

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At the closing ceremony of the 8th Grossmann Fantastic Film and Wine Festival that took place from the 16th to the 21st of July in Ljutomer, Slovenia, the following awards were given: Vicious Cat for Best Feature Film Sleep Tight (Mientras duermes) by Jaume Balagueró (Spain) Inbred by Alex Chandon (UK) The Jury, comprised of Slobodan Šijan, Phillip Bergson and Christian Hallman complemented the 8th Grossmann Fantastic Film & Wine Festival for its rich vintag...

Everything's Coming Up Docs!

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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

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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

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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...

The Winners of Grossmann Fantastic Film and Wine Festival 2011

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In front of a dedicated vampire crowd, we have announced this year's winners of Grossmann Fantastic Film and Wine Festival in Ljutomer, Slovenia. Without further ado, let us list them: VICIOUS CAT International jury consisting of Dinko Tucaković, Phillip Bergson and Lars Nilsen has decided that Vicious Cat (Best Feature Film award) goes to: THE LAST CIRCUS /BALADA TRISTE DE TROMPETA Spain/France; 2010 Directed by: Alex de la Iglesia Genre: comedy The award was taken by acto...

Christopher Lee Master Class Today at Grossmann Festival

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Today at 19:00h at Ljutomer Main Square, Grossmann Fantastic Film and Wine Festival will feature a special event indeed: Master Class with Christopher Lee, hosted by Phillip Bergson. Naturally, today's program features films from the Vicious Cat, Slak's Vicious Cats, Melies d'Or nomination and Noisy Cat competitions, as well as numerous accompanying attractions, such as Hungarian masterpiece Taxidermia (20:00h at the Culture House Cinema) and ultra-rare Shaw Brothers splatterfest The Boxer's O...

Kiwis Launch Film Festival in London

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 ...

The Man with the Golden Flute

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It has become something of a truism that the biggest stars -in whatever field- are the nicest, most easy-going people to meet.The dozens of film legends I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting, professionally or socially,have all displayed a generosity of spirit, and a curiosity, that seemed to be commensurate with their commitment to their craft, and passion for the art of cinema, as well as its industry, whether their careers were spent before or behind the camera, or -as seems inc...

Untold Stories of welcome in Albania

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Who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it.In events around Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK,we think we have seen every grim aspect of the persecutions visited upon the Jewish people in the middle of the last century,(although the day itself-27th January-is increasingly  being designated a commemoration of genocide in general and not exclusively of the horrors instigated by the Nazis)-yet in a marvellously uplifting screening held (on 25th January 2011) at the recently revamped...

Mike Leigh's Lament for London's Lost Gems

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On London's famous Piccadilly street the Royal Academy has been receiving some very mixed notices for its latest block-busting exhibition Modern British Sculpture, filling the Main Galleries (until 7 April 2011). But this palace of the arts in the heart of London houses a number of historic institutions within its wings, and in the premises of the Geological Society a new Architecture Programme has just been launched with ten panels and lectures running until 21st May 2011.Critic's Choice brin...

The Russians have come!

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Ah, si le Barbican m'était conte... I could tell some amusing tales of when London's answer to the Centre Pompidou finally opened in the heart of the historic City of London. Largely funded by and for that quaint enclave of Roman and medieval London which a few decades ago was home only to bankers, financiers and insurance companies, and where no one could be found de cinq a sept  and certainly never on Sundays, the Barbican rose with its labyrinthine walkways, and (then)futuristic m...

The Danes and after at BAFTA

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London's equivalent to Hollywood's Academy is called-for short- BAFTA and it occupies luxurious premises on the historic Piccadilly street (not to be confused with the nearby Piccadilly Circus, which has nothing to do with P.T.Barnum) in the heart of the British capital. For many years it was considered a rather staid place and organisation, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, but in recent years after some interior revamping and probably thanks to some lively new personnel on the...

Sunny Lund's Fantastic Film Festival

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With a reputation as being Scandinavia's largest festival devoted to fantasy films, the 16th Fantastisk Filmfestival (23 September to 2 October,2010) in Lund, a lovely University city in the south of Sweden, was a notable success, and a memorable discovery for myself,  as a first-footing member of the International Jury alongside my colleague from London, the noted Gothophile Kim Newman and the lively Finno-Swedish critic Andrea Reuter.The historic venue- a sort of Swedish Oxford that appare...

Graduates with Distinction

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As the autumn nights lengthen, and the Academy starts to screen its possible nominations, different kinds of film academies begin to put on their end-of-term shows that often may mark the beginning of some careers.The first of the invitations to view the latest student film harvest that came my way was from the London Film Academy, which is housed in an Old Church in Fulham Broadway, in a central London suburb.In early November the LFA organised two showcases of their latest short films, one o...

One Final Gaudy Night in Mannheim

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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 ...

Make Mine Mannheim

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Arriving at any festival on the 13th of the month does not augur well, though my journey from home to Heathrow Terminal 4 had been surprisingly smooth, if long before Dawn's dusky fingers had opened the strike-free ticket offices of any of the Underground stations circling London's Regent Park. Both my Air France flights, via Paris to Frankfurt, had departed and landed on time (though we should draw a veil over the Economy Class croissants of uncertain age and provenance on the earlier flight)an...

Make Mine Mannheim

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Arriving at any festival on the 13th of the month does not augur well, though my journey from home to Heathrow Terminal 4 had been surprisingly smooth, if long before Dawn's dusky fingers had opened the strike-free ticket offices of any of the Underground stations circling London's Regent Park. Both my Air France flights, via Paris to Frankfurt, had departed and landed on time (though we should draw a veil over the Economy Class croissants of uncertain age and provena...
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