Berberian Sound Studio
November 5th, 2022

Berberian Sound Studio

Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen four films written & directed by Peter Strickland. First up is his British Independent Film Awards-winning Berberian Sound Studio [2012].

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 •
COVID protocol will be followed.

TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

1976. A mild-mannered British sound engineer named Gilderoy (Toby Jones) arrives in Rome to work on the post-synchronized soundtrack to The Equestrian Vortex, a tale of witchcraft and murder set inside an all-girl riding academy. But as Gilderoy begins to work on this unexpectedly terrifying project, it’s his own mind that holds the real horrors. As the line between film and reality blurs, is Gilderoy working on a film – or in one?


  • Locarno International Film Festival – 2012 – Special Mention: Junior Jury Award (International Competition)
  • Toronto International Film Festival – 2012
  • New York Film Festival – 2012
  • AFI Fest – 2012
  • International Film Festival Rotterdam – 2013
  • British Independent Film Awards – 2012 – Nominee: Best British Independent Film, Best Screenplay & Best Technical Achievement
  • British Independent Film Awards – 2012 – Winner: Best Technical Achievement, Best Director, Best Actor & Best Achievement in Production
Courtesy of Daniel Gasenzer.

“I’m glad British film produces mainstream crowd-pleasers, but I don’t want to make one.”

Courtesy of Flux Gourmet press kit:

Peter Strickland (born in Great Britain’s Thames Valley in 1973) has made five feature films steeped in tragedy, sonic psychosis, bondage, retail nightmares and stomach problems.

Peter Strickland started making short films on Super 8 and 16mm in the early ’90s. After directing his adaptation of Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ for Reading’s Progress Theatre in 1992 he went on to direct a short film in New York called ‘Bubblegum’, which played at festivals in 1996. After a long hiatus making culinary soundscapes with The Sonic Catering Band, he returned to film in the early part of this century. His first feature film, ‘Katalin Varga’ was funded from an inheritance and shot and edited on a budget of £25,000. The Carpathian tragedy led to funding from the British film industry and the Milano-Dorking sonic anguish of ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ followed in 2012 along with the bondage romance, ‘The Duke of Burgundy’ in 2015. Several radio plays along with a concert film for Björk co-directed with Nick Fenton were made in the last few years and his fourth feature, the Thames Valley retail nightmare, ‘In Fabric’ was released in 2019. His latest feature is the gastrointestinal drama ‘Flux Gourmet’.


  • Flux Gourmet (2022)
  • In Fabric (2019)
  • The Duke of Burgundy (2015)
  • Björk: Biophilia Live (2014)
  • Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
  • Katalin Varga (2009)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

  • Cultivate Cinema Circle info-sheet – link
  • “A cabbage, a kitchen knife and a microphone: what untold depths of horror can be delved into using just these items? In a parallel dimension it could be a task from Blue Peter. This second feature by Katalin Varga director Peter Strickland is a love letter to the weird territories of foley and film sound and also to giallo, the Grand Guignol horror genre carved into the flesh of Italian cinema by Argento, Fulci, Crispino, Avati et al in the 1970s. It follows Gilderoy (Toby Jones), a tweedy, buttoned-down sound engineer, as he leaves the cosy quiet of his home in 1970s Surrey for Italy, to work with Santini, fictionalised giallo producer and impresario. Like Dracula’s Harker, Gilderoy is an innocent abroad, a Home Counties product bewildered by Continental sophistication, an employee increasingly aware that there is something not very… nice about his new employers. The film opens with Gilderoy arriving at the reception of the Berberian Sound Studio to work on the post-production of Santini’s latest picture, and once there it never leaves. It’s an intensely inward-looking piece: in contrast to Katalin Varga (2009), a revenge narrative shot on location with natural lighting, Berberian Sound Studio is entirely enclosed, taking place within a claustrophobic handful of rooms and corridors under electric light. As a film about a film genre it hits all the notes of classic giallo: Santini’s project, The Equestrian Vortex, is an outrageously sexploitational potboiler, overflowing with blood, nubile young women, undead witches, horrific torture and an ‘aroused goblin’. Berberian Sound Studio is also fascinated by the mechanics of its own form. The camera roves over Gilderoy’s charts, his maps of how sounds and effects will overlay the visuals. It zooms in lovingly on the moment of projection itself: the glare of white light, the dust dancing, the click and whir of wheels, reels and spindles.” — Sam Davies, Sight & Sound [2012] – link
  • “The Human Scream is at the hub of our understanding of the 20th century. It resounds and echoes across the era, across the scope of historical and cultural experience – a universal response wholly apposite to the social, economic and political cruelties, architectures, changes and historical traumas of the era. In 20th century culture there is an abundance of screams and screamers. Consider, for instance, the paintings of the Irish artist Francis Bacon, whose images of boxed-in, silent screamers, resonate iconographically in English director and sound artist/designer Peter Strickland’s film Berberian Sound Studio in which again we are shown images of screaming bodies enclosed within the sound booths of the studio…Peter Strickland is a contemporary director and sound artist/designer whose work re-interrogates this 20th century cultural and cinematic phenomenon of the scream from a 21st century perspective. In Strickland’s films the scream is post-modern: reimagined, recast, deconstructed and re-mediated via a set of diegetic and non-diegetic devices, which forcefully separate the scream from the screamer, who is left as an inert, catatonic presence. This article seeks not only to discuss the role and presence of the scream in Strickland’s cinema but also to recognise the influence of the Irish dramatist and writer Samuel Beckett and the dissident surrealist and founder of the Theatre of Cruelty, Antonin Artaud within Strickland’s cinema. For both, the act and representation of screaming is bound up closely with cruelty (an ambiguous and multivalent term within their writing, drama and imagery), space, dis-embodiment, the search for and evanescence of personal subjectivity, and identity.” — Matthew Melia, Frames Cinema Journal [2017] – link
  • Berberian Sound Studio is Strickland’s second feature after his largely self-financed debut Katalin Varga, a surprise winner at Berlin in 2009. A former art student, versed in experimental film and music (he’s a member of a culinary-themed musique concrète outfit named the Sonic Catering Band), Strickland has declared that he owes his interest in giallo films to their soundtrack contributions by avant-garde musical luminaries such as Luigi Nono and Luciano Berio. And it’s the mixture of horror and experimental modes, as well as the formal panache with which they’re combined, that makes Berberian Sound Studio such an unusual British film, one that’s been warmly received by critics and won a number of prizes. But Berberian isn’t some worthy exercise in cultural contraband, smuggling in high culture under the guise of low. It’s funny, disturbing, and enjoyably puzzling, and its structure—a film (that we don’t see) within a film (in which we hear it)—allows Strickland to play an unsettling game with cinematic space.” —Chris Darke, Film Comment [2013] – link

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