New director Peter Taylor interrogates the limits of film and moving image in the 11th edition of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, 23rd – 27th September 2015
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is delighted to announce Fact or Fiction, the theme for the 11th edition of the Festival opening on 23 September curated by new director Peter Taylor who comes from International Film Festival Rotterdam. The Festival also launches a new programme strand Berwick New Cinema, showcasing internationally acclaimed films that challenge the limits of the medium.
The Festival unfolds at The Maltings Theatre and Cinema, Gymnasium Gallery and in some of Berwick’s most remarkable historic buildings including a custom house, ice houses once used to preserve fish, a gunpowder store, prison cells, council chambers, a guard house and the town’s medieval fortifications.
Expanded Focus on New Cinema
With an expanded focus on new cinema and artists’ moving image, the Festival presents new commissions by Paul Rooney, Seamus Harahan, Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky and CIRCA Projects; the European premiere of Peter Burr’s Cave Exits and UK premieres of new works by artists Ben Rivers, Renate Lorenz & Pauline Boudry and Pacho Velez. The Festival’s 2015 Artists in Focus are Seamus Harahan and Deimantas Narkevicius whose works are featured in both retrospective screenings and exhibitions.
Premieres and Programme Highlights
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2015 presents the UK premieres of three features and more than twenty short and mid-length films, as well as ten other feature and documentary films, opening with Nils Malmros’ Sorrow and Joy (Denmark, 2013, 127’) and closing with Alonso Ruiz Palacios’ Güeros (Mexico, 2014, 108’). It also marks the 50th anniversary of The War Game, Peter Watkins’ controversial feature about the harrowing aftermath of a nuclear war, and revisits Pere Portabella’s ravishing 1970 masterpiece, Vampir – Cuadecuc. In another Festival Highlight, Turner Prize nominee Phil Collins introduces a 35mm screening of Mohsen Makhmalbaf ‘s Salam Cinema (Iran, 1995, 75’).
The Inntravel Short Film Award
The Festival also presents the Inntravel Short Film Award, responding to the fact or fiction theme with nominees Ben Rivers, Rehana Zaman, Julia Feyrer & Tamara Henderson, Lucy Clout, Jesse McLean, Wojciech Bakowski and Rita Macedo; and a jury including Salomé Lamas, Beatrice Gibson and curator Fatos Üstek.
Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction challenges preconceived notions of documentary and narrative film, navigating the grey areas between fact and fantasy, documentary and narrative, journalism and propaganda. Festival Director Peter Taylor says, “2015's Fact or Fiction programme is about allowing audiences to experience processes that get to the real essence of cinema and give them something much more ambiguous, ambitious and complex.”
In partnership with Berwick Visual Arts, the Festival’s 2015 artist-in-residence Paul Rooney’s new work has its World Premiere in the town’s Custom House. Still at Large weaves the real and fictional past of a dreamlike encounter with Cul-de-Sac, Roman Polanski’s famous 1966 feature film shot on the nearby Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
On the medieval fortifications of Coxon’s Tower, a live broadcast is received from an isolated Shetland lighthouse in Grace Schwindt’s Little Birds and a Demon. Three opera singers and an ensemble of musicians send out a call of love and death to the Tower on 19 September, continuing as a sound installation in Custom House during the Festival.
2015 Jarman Film Award nominee Seamus Harahan presents The Fucking Finland Series in Berwick Town Hall’s prison cells and below ground at Coxon’s Tower. Taking its name from graffiti daubed across a Hanko Ferry Terminal toilet cubicle door, this anthology of films completed for Harahan’s Festival commission traces the unintended cultural chinks and links in the Iron Curtain, at a time when the Soviet Union and Western Europe were ideologically divided. Armed with a hand-held video camera, Harahan strives to reveal all that is real and recognisable in his immediate environment in all its unspectacular and incidental detail.
Following acclaimed presentations in New York and Toronto, the European Premiere of Peter Burr’s Cave Exits showcases a Tarkovsky-inspired multimedia narrative set inside a 4-channel video cube installed in Bankhill Ice House. Recalling the clicking, zooming and scrolling of online interaction, it turns the visual archetype of the labyrinth into a circuit board for our feelings.
In the subterranean ice house of Custom House, Kathleen Herbert’s A History Of The Receding Horizon (2015) is a film and installation exploring time through the hilltop astronomers of Northumberland’s Kielder Forest and an environmental historian searching for the drowned past in the manmade valley reservoir of Kielder Water.
Once in the XX Century is a retrospective exhibition at the Gymnasium Gallery of the work of acclaimed Latvian filmmaker Deimantas Narkevicius. In films such as The Head (2007) and through re-appropriation of both found and archival material, Narkevicius creates powerful alternative narratives that explore how symbols and meaning can shift through the passing of time, with special reference to the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Other moving image installations include Renate Lorenz & Pauline Boudry’s Opaque (2014) in the Council Chambers of Berwick Town Hall, a 16mm film installation in which two performers launch a manifesto for the power of refusal and the right to opacity in a derelict public swimming pool; Neither A nor not-A (2015), Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky’s installation in a former gunpowder store in which artistic and scientific re-enactments collide to question Chi-Sei, or “the capacity to know” as a Japanese puppeteer tries to teach the alphabet to a cactus; and in Berwick’s last remaining guard house Pacho Velez’s The Reagan Shorts (2015), is a new work of edited archival footage capturing the pageantry, pathos and charisma that followed America’s 40th president from Hollywood to Capitol Hill.
Berwick New Cinema
Berwick New Cinema is a new forum which questions traditional understandings of film and moving image, from short desktop documentaries and flicker films such as Seven Signs that Mean Silence (Sara Magenheimer, USA, 2014, 11’), and Blinder (Tim Leyendekker, Netherlands/Brazil, 2015, 13’) to award-winning mid length films including Abdul & Hamza (Marko Grba Singh, Serbia, 2015, 49’) and the UK premieres of feature films such as Sueñan los Androides (Androids Dream) (Ion de Sosa, Germany/Spain, 2014, 61’); Limbo (Anna Sofie Hartmann, Denmark, 2014, 80’) and Mercuriales (Virgil Vernier, France, 2014, 128’).
CIRCA Projects have created Giff-Gaff, a commissioned series exploring fact or fiction and unravelling Berwick's history through disjointed narratives from local and invited storytellers; a new map of Berwick created by artist Ant Macari; a performance by 2015 Jarman Award nominated artist Bedwyr Williams; a musical piece by harpist Rhodri Davies contextualising time slippage and the Brythonic language of Wales and Northumberland; and the launch of Richard Rigg's publication of new work n, which deals with the constructed image through a fabricated rock fall in the Welsh mountains.
Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival
Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival launched in 2005 as an international festival celebrating the art of film in the historic border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Past commissions include Field Music’s new score for John Grierson’s Drifters (2013), Katie Davies’ Lawes of the Marshes and Ben Russell’s Greetings to the Ancestors that won an International Film Festival Rotterdam Tiger Award for best Short Film.
The key supporters for Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival 2015 are Arts Council England and the British Film Institute. Arch is the Lead Sponsor for the Festival, a Northumberland Development Company, owned by Northumberland County Council, who support development and regeneration through investments. Media sponsors for 2015 are Little White Lies, Aesthetica and BBC Newcastle.