Mid-September will see the picturesque border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed transformed once again into one big cinema screen for the 10th anniversary edition of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival. With just three months to go until Festival kick off, organisers are today delighted to reveal the details of two exciting new commissions, and for those wanting to bag a bargain – Early Bird Festival Passes are now on sale!
Each year since its 2005 inception, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival has curated a playful programme of film premieres, site-specific installations, and live events, all presented in a series of unique heritage sites around the town walls, and all within a chosen theme.
Coinciding with the referendum for an independent Scotland, the Festival theme for this year is Border Crossing, taking Berwick’s border town position as a starting point to explore border identities all over the world.
“As a town that passed hands between England and Scotland thirteen times, and with an identity neither English nor Scottish but all of its own, it’s going to be a really interesting week to be in Berwick” says Festival Director, Melanie Iredale, “and we’re thrilled to be offering a platform for filmmakers and artists from all over the world to respond to some of the themes being debated.”
Announcing a live event: Orchestra of Samples
Audio-visual artists Addictive TV spent the last four years filming improvised recording sessions with over 100 individual musicians in over twenty countries, from South America to West Africa and across Europe.
Percussionists, singers, flautists, guitarists and much more, all sampled and blended together to form a virtual group of musicians who never met. This exciting new live commission will build on the existing musical recordings from around the world, resulting in an electrifying one-off new performance of Orchestra of Samples.
Graham Daniels of Addictive TV explains: “We've recorded sessions all over the world, but not yet in the UK. We’re really fascinated by Northumberland’s rich musical heritage, so want to learn more! It's great we’re coming Berwick in the summer to record sessions with local folk musicians."
Having appeared everywhere from the Pompidou Centre in Paris to the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Shanghai and even at this year's Glastonbury Festival, Addictive TV are set to perform the new show as the Friday night highlight of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival at The Maltings Theatre & Cinema on 19th September. At only £7 (£6 concessions), tickets can be bought from www.berwickfilm-artsfest.com and from The Maltings Box Office on +44 (0)1289 330999.
The project is supported by Newcastle University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice, while the live event is sponsored by Simpsons Malt.
Announcing a new commission: Tweed-Sark Cinema
Tweed-Sark Cinema is an ambitious film shown simultaneously across four-screens. It explores the meaning of the border to those who live, work, visit and play around the banks of the two rivers which mark the English-Scottish border: in the west, the Sark; and in the east, the Tweed.
The work is currently in production, with Dumfriesshire artist and filmmaker John Wallace, and Eco-Scientist Professor Pete Smith from the University of Aberdeen, at the helm.Wallace is currently filming in and around Berwick and said: “I’m using the concepts of Ecosystem Services Modelling to help me uncover human connections with the rivers Sark and Tweed and the lands around them. The finished piece will blend contemporary and archive footage of scenes around both rivers with audio from dozens of interviews with locals and visitors.”
Each screen will show a different stream of video, while the audio responds to changes in the time of day and to live sensor feeds from river level and rainfall gauges.
Presented in Bankhill Ice House - a large cave-like structure once crucial to the fishing industry around Berwick and one of the Festival’s most popular venues - audiences will see and hear the Tweed outside as they immerse themselves in the installation.
The project is a development of Cinema Sark, originally commissioned for the Environmental Art Festival Scotland in 2013. This new project has been sponsored by Northumbrian Water and Northumbria University, Newcastle - with the support of the University of Aberdeen and Creative Scotland.
Already announced for this year’s Festival is Katie Davies, artist in residence in partnership with Berwick Visual Arts, who is currently producing a new work in response to Berwick’s position in the lead up to the referendum, which will be sited at Barracks’ old military Gymnasium, and will open on Thursday 18th September, on the date that Scotland goes to the polls.
Meanwhile a highlight for Saturday 20th September is the Inntravel Short Film Awards a competitive programme which will respond to the theme of Border Crossing from a global perspective. The Jury so far announced includes Head of Film at the Guardian, Catherine Shoard, and established moving image artist, Marcus Coates, while broadcaster and model Eunice Olumide presents.
Early Bird Passes on Sale!
With the majority of the Festival programme still under wraps, organisers have launched the Early Bird Pass, offering access to all films and events for a discounted price of just £25 – saving Festival goers up to 70% of the soon to be advertised individual ticket prices. The Pass will increase to full price and all tickets will go on sale when the programme is announced mid-August.
With last year’s Festival resulting in Berwick’s B&B’s “selling out,” Festival organisers recommend visitors to book early.