Bergson: Only festivals champion top quality cinema

Interviewed by: Evliana BERANI

In an exclusive interview for infoGlobi News Agency, the world known film critic, Phillip Bergson talks about the achievements and challenges of the cinematography in Kosovo, region and the world. 

Bergson is the founder of Oxford Film Festival, the first competitive event for features in Great Britain, recognized by the F.I.A.P.F.  He is also known as a broadcaster on BBC Radio, where he has scripted and presented many programmes on cinema as well as regularly interviewing film-makers on the BBC Andalucia.

From 1st to 5th September he appears in the capacity of the member of the jury of the Fest film Kosova ‘Hyjnesha në Fron’ that is taking part in the capital of Kosova, Prishtina.

 infoGlobi: As a global citizen and film critic, what is you impression about the film industry? Is it in decline and how it is affected by the internet age and piracy?

 Bergson: Film production seems to be flourishing internationally- in spite of piracy and proliferation of DVDs and many new kinds of television channels…and in the UK cinema admissions-paid tickets-have risen every year recently and even month by month, in spite of the Olympics or good weather.

The decline is in the quality and content of many so-called mainstream productions, based on comic books and increasingly resembling comic-strips, aimed at the lowest, least-educated juvenile audiences, yet many fine European film-makers still pursue serious themes and manage somehow- thanks to festivals perhaps- to show stories of great beauty and emotion in motion.

The fear of piracy forces the American movies to be released almost simultaneously all over the world, whereas 20 years ago films could take the time to find their audiences…and often the more off-beat US films could in the past find more appreciative audiences overseas, after launches in the Berlinale or Cannes or Venice, with redesign of poster, marketing campaign, sometimes even re-editing.

Because of internet sometimes you can see entire films -and in the worst possible technical conditions! – Even before press or public premieres of such productions. In such an atmosphere what remain of the Hollywood studios naturally throw too many eggs into one stupid basket

 infoGlobi: What should be done in order to overcome difficulties and challenges that came as a result of the ‘internet’ and ‘technology’ age? What about opportunities, how can they be used in order to improve the situation with the movie industry?

 Bergson: It is difficult but only the festivals  champion top quality cinema and shown in the best conditions and struggling independent or art-house cinemas who try to remind audiences that film is a communal experience – especially a comedy or horror-show- that needs to be shared with other people in a dark but comfortable space.

Investing in the cinema as a picture palace  as an elegant attractive venue with nice café snacks and drinks and sensible ticket prices is better than constructing more and more boxes of cinemas-the multiplex-the first ever was created in the artificial city of Milton Keynes near London!- which are on the edges of towns, seem to showing the same films in 3-D and 2-D (how stupid!)-  they only make films suddenly now in 3-D as they believe such films can’t be pirated. But, what cannot be pirated is a good story, fine dialogue and moving performances from gifted and sometimes beautiful actresses and actors.

 infoGlobi: The film industry has been affected significantly by the economic and financial crisis in the countries in transition. Have the hard economic and financial circumstances affected the cultural values of the cinematography? Any example or experience in this regard?!

 Bergson: The collapse of so many Eastern bloc countries following the Fall of the Berlin Wall forced film industries to lose their state funding- and many film-makers have not yet managed to adapt successfully to the new realities of the market-place.

The Czechoslovak cinema which had been adored internationally during the Prague Spring- if mistrusted at home- has now been replaced largely by local comedies of little interest outside the Czech borders, while the Hungarian cinema is almost non-existent, yet Spielberg can enjoy tax-relief in Budapest studios to fabricate much of MUNICH there.

The only way is for mutually supportive European co-productions to use talents with as few artistic compromises as possible, not to replicate American stories but to refute them.

 infoGlobi:May you please reveal for our readers your opinion about the cinematography in the Western Balkan countries? Is there anything that might be perceived as ‘typical’ or that differs from the movies produced in other parts of the world?

 Bergson: Impressive from recent features set and shot in the Western Balkans are the strengths of acting performances-from young as well as seasoned professionals, often experienced in theatre work, and the welcome often dark flashes of humor, and the gradual movement away from memoirs of the recent tragic conflicts.

Some historical reconstructions have been fascinating, while contemporary-set stories bring fresh urban and rural landscapes, well captured by skilled camera-operators, in which figures have to confront some of the same problems shared by Western Europeans.

 infoGlobi: Batman/Spiderman era movies. What is their impact in cultural values?

 Bergson:Literary experts cite the world holds only 26 stories; the Bible told us ‘There is nothing new under the sun’- the proliferation of   comic-book based extravaganzas ,big of budget, rich in special-effects, but poor in humor. Humanity and genuine emotion takes the cinema back to its earliest, infantile beginnings. It is sad to see so much talent and technical expertise wasted on productions that seem not even to be cynical about their cynicism.

infoGlobi: What are your expectations from the Fest Film Kosova?

 Bergson:A stimulating rendezvous of film-makers and film-lovers that will remind us that film recognizes no borders or frontiers.

 infoGlobi: Is there any message that you would like to send to the Kosovan audience and artists here?

 Bergson: Be curious and be courageous!