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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


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The Man with the Golden Flute

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 increasingly the case today - on both sides of the lens (though not usually at the same time).It is the ones who have not yet arrived at the top,who can be  difficult,or demanding,change meeting times or stipulate topics for questions,refuse to talk about anything but their latest film, and seem only interested in talking about themselves.Perhaps it is their insecurity, their lack of self-confidence, that flares out and colours, often so negatively, these admittedly somewhat artificial brief  encounters, between interviewer and interviewee.

Marcello Mastroianni probably best  summed up for me the strange relationship between writer and subject, when I had suggested that it seemed a little like 'The Doctor will see you now', when the publicist hands the talent a  schedule with appointments every hour,half,or quarter-- 'Ah no', he joked,'I always think it is more like the relationship between a prostitute and the client- but I still don t know which one is which!"

The music world contains a parallel sea of celebrity comparable with the stormy  waters of cinema stardom. If anything, the pressures on the artiste can be greater, because with most classical concerts, the script is very well known in advance, and the focus is clearly on  how well,originally or brilliantly it is executed. Music is a demanding profession, and audiences  demand the highest standards.

As the old joke goes, "How can I get to Carnegie Hall?" asks the tourist lost in Manhattan."Rehearse, rehearse,rehearse!" shouts the virtuoso running by. Some conductors craftily create an aura of mystique, while the tantra (or should that be tantrums?) of opera divae could make even Madonna blush.

Few musicians have carved out a more successful or more rewarding career than the lad from Belfast now known and internationally applauded as Sir James Galway,or the Man with the Golden Flute.

Though he played with the Berlin Philharmonic and gave Karajan something of a "head staggers' (as he calls it) when he decided to leave and go solo,and has lived for many years in and around lovely Lucerne in Switzerland, he still has a recognisably Irish accent and a twinkle in the eye when we meet in London's Cadogan Hotel.He speaks well and warmly on any topic, and wisely too, with an easy sense of humour."My dad played the flute,that's how I became interested.I came to London to study at the Royal College of Music - I didn t really graduate, I sort of left and went to Paris and studied there. You never stop learning...I've just taken up chess!" On his brief visit, he fits in a Master Class for students at his old alma mater, and he ll do the same after performing over the weekend in Budapest.The night after we meet he is the star turn, with his wife Lady Jeanne accompanying him on the flute, in a recital during a charity dinner to raise funds for the visit of the Israel Philharnonic to perform in the Proms, and to complete a feature documentary (by Oscar-nominated New York-based film-maker Josh Aronson) in time for its 75 anniversary in December."There have always been a lot of tremendously gifted Jewish musicians, and I should think there are probably more Jewish Nobel Prize- winners in many fields, as well.It is staggering how Jewish people have been targeted, not just by Hitler - I am just reading a new history book now about the 14th century, when it seemed they blamed everything on the Jews- even if it rained!And for many years the Jews were not permitted in any profession or business, except money-lending.So of course they were then targeted as being obsessed with money-making.I am glad to play with the Israel Philharmonic- I'll go there again in June this year and perform,Now I am thinking of setting up a flute competition in Belfast- it's great to give the kids something to do in school,music helps bring them together, just as back in 1936 Hooberman brought great musicians to Palestine from a Europe falling into ruin.

"Karajan had a controversial side for some,but I would say he was one of the greatest musicians because  not only did he embrace the new techniques - he recorded in mono, then he was filmed in black and white, then he recorded in stereo and then was filmed conducting the same symphonies in colour, and each time his reading of the score got better."

Sir James has had a few brushes with the film-world and would welcome more."I love watching films and music can be so important an element.When I recorded Howard Shore' s score for Lord of the Rings,I never met Peter Jackson.We were in some state-of-the-art studio up in Hampstead, I think it was owned by George Martin,the Beatle's producer, but the monitor didn t work and to get the right sound I ended up wrapping duct tape around my tin whistlle! I'd certainly be up for playing on the soundtrack of The Hobbit if anyone wants to call me....

When I am not watching movies or reading scores,I play backgammon.I like to sleep a bit before a concert or a recital.I am going to go back to Moscow soon- I was there about 17 years ago with Lorin Maazel, we played in some marvellous, beautiful halls but were followed by KG everywhere.It should be different now! Lately one of the things that most impressed me was going to see 'Tannhause' conducted by Zubin Mehta at La Scala, Milan, and at the Luzern Festival , Roger Moore made a brilliant reader in a concert.Among my favourites are C.P.E.Bach's concerti I am also looking forward to playing new pieces by Cindy McTee and other contemporary composers.Bill Walin is doing something for me after he finishes his opera for the New York Met."

Have flute, will travel!

 

Phillip Bergson

 

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