Artist-Filmmaker Ben Russell announced as winner of international competition


Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival and Northern Film & Media are delighted to reveal that internationally renowned US-based media artist Ben Russell has been awarded a new commission to be produced for, and premiered at, the 10th anniversary edition of the Festival in September 2014.

Having had solo exhibitions and screenings all over the world – from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and at film festivals ranging from Berlinale to Venice - Russell will come to North East England in September to present a new documentary work titled ‘The Twilight State,’ as an immersive installation.

Responding to the Festival’s theme Border Crossing and set between Swaziland and South Africa, ‘The Twilight State’ will explore culture, nature, society and existence within this unusual landscape. With the borderless Kruger National Park bringing modernity abruptly to the doorstep of the natural world, and in a society still grappling with the after-effects of apartheid, ‘The Twilight State’ documents the lives of the territory’s inhabitants as borders dematerialise, evolve and dissolve.

On learning of his success Ben Russell said: “I am thrilled to have been awarded this generous commission by Northern Film & Media and am terribly excited to present ‘The Wild State’ in the form of a new kinetic film installation at Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival this September. The framework provided by the ‘Border Crossing’ theme has led me to rethink cinema as a physical site where both material and immaterial borders can be traversed - be it via the prayer rituals of Christian animists in Swaziland, the dreams of non-traditional Xhosa sangoma healers, or the nation-less horizons of the natural world, ‘The Wild State’ will become a place that we all can occupy."

This new commission comes as the result of an international call for proposals issued by Northern Film & Media and Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, with financial support from Arts Council England, which attracted hundreds of entries from over 30 different countries around the world. Support for the project also comes from The MacDowell Colony, USA and the commissioning process was supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

September also marks the UK release of Ben Russell’s second feature film ‘A Spell to Ward off the Darkness,’ co-directed with artist-filmmaker Ben Rivers, and distributed by Soda Pictures on 12 September.

‘The Wild State’ will premiere at the 10th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival from 17 – 21 September 2014. Early-bird Festival passes, granting access to everything for the full five days are now on sale for just £25 at

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