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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


The Russians have come!

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 melange of pricey apartments, and purpose-built theatres, concert-halls,cinemas and an artificial mini-lake.

There was a library, but no shops, bars and a Museum of London (which also used to have a fine cinema inside it) but even the eponymous adjacent Tube station didn't function at weekends for a decade or more after the vast pleasure dome was inaugurated. I recall the tales of a certain actress (now a Dame, but I ll say no more) who walked on to the wrong stage in the middle of her play (there is a Pit studio theatre two floors below street-level;
I know the air was blue in the lift that night, as she was supposed to be appearing in the much larger main stage upstairs!).And I heard with my own eyes a certain flame-haired couturier also screaming in a rather unlady-like way  during the press previews of the  celebrated "Indian Summer" exhibitions, when the 6pm crowd invited to the Official show had simply swanned up to the wrong gallery and eaten all the canapes laid out for the 8pm Vernissage!
In those not so far off days, the director of the place was unfortunately called Mr Wrong, and he was forced by the doughty diva to bellow into a walkie-talkie (this was before cell phones were even thought of) to summon up mineral waters from a distant supermarket.

Now ,happily ,access is easier and the whole place has imprinted itself on  London audiences, and though Benazir Bhutto, alas, no longer resides in one of the  lofty Barbican Tower flats, the place is bustling with audiences day and night for a variety of artistic events.
There are, I think, three cinemas in disparate places about this monolith, but currently only the larger Cinema 1 is in use, (dangerously,perhaps, on level -2 and sharing a foyer with the afore-mentioned  Pit Theatre).It is one of London's most comfortable screening-rooms, of a dramatically descending arena design ,ensuring that each seat  has an uninterrupted view of the larger screen below. Seats are individually numbered and the cinema mixes commercial releases with special seasons, and historical silent movies with live musical accompaniment.

Currently it has a Directorspective devoted to Andrei Konchalovsky and both his opening events were completely sold-out. I was lucky to catch the Saturday matinee (on 22nd January,2011) screening of House of Fools (Dom durakov), a Felliniesque fable based on a true incident set during one of the recent Chechen wars, and which I had first seen -I think- at Venice in 2002, where it had taken the  Special Jury Prize.

After the screening Andrei Konchalovksy introduced his wife  Yuliya Vysotskaya (a 1998 graduate of the London Academy of Music and Fine Arts ) who so heart-breakingly plays the central role of the asylum inmate dreaming of Bryan Adams. In conversation  on-stage with a local critic, Konchalovsky shared some wry and witty thoughts and then joined an  open discussion with the clearly enthusiastic audience."The film had terrible reviews in Russia- one person said it was the worst film he had ever seen in his life-and the release was a disaster.
But the Barbican is a special place. People who come here can read- you are obvously very literate! I can't make films to be watched by audiences eating popcorn.I see them sometimes, in the multiplexes in the States- there is a glimpse of interest at something, and they stop  chewing - and that's art!"

He repeated David Mamet's maxim - "The honeymoon is the shooting, the marriage starts when you have to cut it! I remember my tutor at film school in Moscow, Mikhail Romm, used to say,' if you can get sixty per cent of what you wanted on the screen, that's pretty good!' When I see my films again-which I do very very rarely- it is like revisiting my past.

Even now, after I saw the last half-hour this afternoon, I wonder if it isn't a little exaggerated, it's almost like theatre this House of Fools. But I wanted it to be  strange, odd, funny-cruel, quite a poetic was inspired by a real incident I had seen on Russian TV, I think, an anecdote about this asylum in the Chechen war where somebody hid and the inmates were more sane than the outside madness of the war. There is a psychotic illness called Christ's Bride, and the central character suffers from this. I called Sting to play  the part of her fantasy figure , but he said 'I can give you a song, but I am too busy to come to Russia to act in your film'.
So thank God Bryan Adams was available!"

The season continues with Konchalovsky's first film First Teacher(Pervyy uchitel) at 4pm., on Saturday 29th January, 2011, and his 1970 adaptation of Uncle Vanya will be screened at 4pm on Sunday 30th January, 2011.

Further details from  


Phillip Bergson

Comments (1)

Please rely at my reviews or order me ones <:)

Actually I am an art house movie director from Moscow. I am first at my genre about here, and I created my techniques and feature devices from literally nothing. However, my genres has proved to be recognizable. I screen movies at the following themes:

1) Russian monasteries of 16-17 centuries;

2) forgotten Russian estates;

3) the spells in the history of the Russian poetry;

4) great figures in the art of the old (namely, in the cinema).

This is not the entire range. I am proficient at poetic and prosaic screen writing. My Regards.; (+7)  916-315-916-6


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