Michael Bergmann Biography

Michael Bergmann makes films that are “sexy, surreal and entirely original,”
(Sam Maser, Program director of the Hamptons International Film festival, 1995) and “unafraid to be both smart and silly,” (Lisa Nesselson, writing in “Variety”).

Bergmann’s first full-length feature Milk and Money (1995) featured performances by Calista Flockhart, Margaret Colin, Marin Hinkle, Olympia Dukakis and Dina Merrill in varied and engaging roles for women that actresses and audiences love. Such roles characterize Bergmann’s writing and directing. His prize-winning short In Bed With My Books, which explores the interior lives of older women, was an audience favorite at the Montréal festival.

In love with language from a very early age (he is credited with a footnote in The Annotated Alice in Wonderland from when he was a teenager) Bergmann writes scripts with such attention to the details of language and rhythm that viewers find themselves using quotations from his films long after they have seen them.

In love with the reasons people do what they do, Bergmann directs the transitions between his actors’ lines, rather than the lines themselves, so that audiences get to know the characters by watching them think. He inspires performances that combine the emotional honesty of the Method with the technical precision of British acting. “Helping someone understand the full range of meanings in a text liberates the actor to create a performance that’s uniquely his own and truly fresh,” Bergmann explains. He is proud to have identified and worked with exceptional new talents, such as Calista Flockhart, Marin Hinkle and Bridget Moynahan, before they became well known. At the same time, Bergmann has been delighted to offer unusual roles to beloved veterans, such as Peter Boyle, Olympia Dukakis, Tovah Feldshuh, and the original Man from U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn.

chartresIn love with the colors produced by image sensors, Bergmann has been a fan of digital photography since its inception, finding ways to work both with and against the limited contrast ratio of the digital medium. Bergmann prides himself on being able to obtain exceptional image quality and subtly expressive lighting on relatively low-budget equipment. The resulting images have some of the vividness of 13th Century stained glass, a major influence on both Bergmann’s photographic style and his sense of narrative, ever since he discovered Chartres cathedral as a teenager.

Cutting-edge film technology has been one of his long-term interests. In 1999 he wrote one of the first how-to books on digital filmmaking. He has also appeared as a lecturer and panelist at independent film conferences, speaking on the latest trends in state-of-the-art technology. He believes that the use of the latest digital technology enhances cinematic creativity by enabling filmmakers “to do much more on budgets which restrict them much less” every year or so.

Bergmann’s fiercely independent mind and intellectual integrity come from a long family tradition. He is the son of two leading Freudian psychoanalysts and the grandson of a philosopher who was one of the founders of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is also the great-grandson of a Prague salonière whose circle included Franz Kafka and Max Brod. This cosmopolitan background has enabled him to create original films that weave together French New Wave character studies, the ironic humor of 1960s Czech cinema and re-examinations of classic Hollywood genres.

 

Filmography:

Milk & MoneyMilk and Money (1996) with the late great Peter Boyle, Margaret Colin, Olympia Dukakis, Calista Flockhart, Marin Hinkle, Dina Merrill, Robert Petkoff, Robert Vaughn, and Sarah Winkler. Best American Independent Feature, Cleveland International Film Festival; Prix SACD, Avignon Film Festival. More…

 

Trifling with FateTrifling With Fate (2000) with Bridget Moynahan, Gordon Elliott, Vivienne Benesch, Jason Butler Harner, Teri Lamm and Sarah Winkler. More…

 

 

In Bed with My BooksIn Bed With My Books (2002) (Short)
Prix du Jury Montreal Film Festival. More…

 

 

AftershockAftershock (2002)
Best Short Film Whitehead International Film Festival. More…

 

 

Reality TrapThe Reality Trap (2005) with Bonnie Loren, Kevin Stapleton and Hedy Burress. More…

 

 

Tied to a ChairTied To A Chair (2009) with Bonnie Loren, Mario Van Peebles and Robert Gosset. Best Feature Film at The New York International Independent Film & Video Festival and Heart of England International Film Festival Best in Festival. More…

 

Books:

what Silent love hath writWhat Silent Love Hath Writ:
A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

(with Martin Bergmann) (2008) About the book…

 

 

 

digital video bookTrifling With Fate: How to Make a Digital Video Feature Film (2000)
About the book…

 

 

 

IMDB page

Curriculum Vitae