Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival today presents its most ambitious programme to date in celebration of its tenth anniversary.
Coinciding with the referendum for an independent Scotland (18th September) and with Berwick-upon-Tweed occupying a unique position as the most northerly English town which borders Scotland, the Festival has chosen “Border Crossing” as its theme, with its programme exploring border identities and the crossing of boundaries all over the world.
On announcing the programme Festival Director Melanie Iredale said “With over 75 features, short films and artists’ video representing the work of filmmakers and artists from over 35 countries, the Festival will screen in thirteen unique locations around and within the town’s Elizabethan town walls, transforming everything from the ice houses to prison cells into pop-up screening venues.”
She continues: “With this line-up and topical theme the Festival extends beyond Berwick, beyond the Scottish independence referendum, encapsulating global perspectives – bringing an international flavor to the heart of Berwick-upon-Tweed.“
Opening this celebration of celluloid on Wednesday 17th September is Mamarosh (dir. Momcilo Mrdakovic, 2013) – one of 19 UK Premieres - the tale of a film projectionist from Serbia who flees to New York only to find that 35mm is dead and resolves to revive it. Following this is a preview of a new installation by 16mm US artist Ben Russell, The Twilight State (2014) (produced in partnership with Northern Film & Media), one of four new commissions, and 6 world premieres for the award-winning Festival.
Another of the new commissions by Berwick Visual Arts’ artist in residence Katie Davies is previewed on 18th September. The Lawes of the Marches (2014), is an exploration of ancient traditions designed to preserve boundaries. The same day the UK Premiere of Inbetween Worlds (dir. Feo Aladag, 2014) – about a friendship between a German soldier and his Afghan interpreter.
The programme features a number of German works. From drama, West (dir. Christian Schwochow, 2013), to the UK Premiere of Lines of Resistance (dir. Rose Butler, 2013), an installation which commemorates 25 years since the fall of the Berlin wall, while documentaries such as the UK Premiere of Forbidden Voices (dir. Barbara Miller, 2012), and The Uprising (dir. Peter Snowdon, 2013) – for which Northumberland born, Belgium-based filmmaker Peter Snowdon will be in attendance - pay homage to the pan-Arab Spring which saw borders crossed not only across the middle east but online, across the world. The Mulberry House (dir. Sarah Ishaq, 2013) – screening on Friday 19th September - explores similar themes from a more personal perspective, with Oscar-nominated Yemeni-Scottish, Cairo-based director Sara Ishaq coming to Berwick to present her film.
A highlight for the Friday night is Orchestra of Samples, which see international audio-visual artists Addictive TV joined on stage by folk musicians from Northumbria and the Borders including rising star fiddle player Shona Mooney and master of the concertina Alistair Anderson.
Other names to look out for over the five days include Philip Selway of Radiohead who comes to perform his new single accompanied by a Northumberland County Council commissioned music video, not to mention the illustrious panel of judges making up the Inntravel Short Film Awards, Catherine Shoard, Head of Film at the Guardian is joined by Festival co-founder Marcus Coates as model and broadcaster Eunice Olumide presents.
On Saturday 20 September is a preview of Approved for Adoption (dir. Jung & Laurent Boileau, 2012), a touching tale of a South Korean boy adopted in to a Belgian household – with the ‘boy,’ co-director Jung attending the screening. The film was selected by local students and forms part of the youth programme over the weekend which involves films made by and for children and young people, ranging from animations for those aged 3 and up, in Wee Films for Wee Ones, to Giraffada (dir. Rani Massalha, 2013), an inspirational family film from Palestine. Berwick Film Society meanwhile bring animator Em Cooper to the town for a special screening of Kiss the Water (dir. Eric Steel, 2012), the poetic portrait of Scottish fly-tier Megan Boyd.
The promenade of installations continues over the weekend, presenting an opportunity to see the historic town like you’ve never seen it before. Newly commissioned artists John Wallace & Professor Pete Smith have been exploring two rivers as a border in Tweed-Sark Cinema (2014), Glasgow-based artist Rachel Maclean’s A Whole New World (2014) imagines a fallen British empire while Uzbekistan-born artist Kristina Cranfeld’s Manufactured Britishness (2013) – who will give an artist talk in Berwick - explores citizenship, all of which are sure to resonate with audiences from both sides of the border.
When it comes to those north of the border, From Scotland with Love (dir. Virginia Heath, 2014) represents the Festival itself crossing into Scotland for the first time, with this medley of archive footage being presented in the beautiful surroundings of the gallery at Paxton House in Berwick – north of the Tweed on Sunday 21st September.
Closing the Festival is a preview of Ida (2013) – a firm favourite on the international festival circuit from BAFTA winning director Pawel Pawlikowski.
The Festival continues to offer five day Festival passes for just £7 per day – coming in at £35 (£30 concessions) visitors to Berwick can experience the full gamut of films, installations and live events from 17th – 21st September.
> Check out the full schedule and buy your tickets.