New Commissions Announced for the Festival!


With three weeks to go til the 7th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, the countdown begins!

The event offers a range of feature film screenings, short film programmes, and video installations, opening with the World Premiere of regionally co-produced drama I Am Nasrine, and culminating with a live event, showing The Blue Bird from 1918, with accompaniment from the Compton Organ.

The Festival has always been a commissioning one, producing work such as The Keystone Cut Ups by People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz, which has since gone on to be performed at Flatpack Festival in Birmingham, and Every Trick in the Book by Film Bee, which was recently screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival in June.

This year will prove no different, with the Festival premiering two new commissions, one entitled Penumbra: The Long and Peculiar Life Jimmy Strength by Gareth Hudson & Jack Burton, and the other entitled Maria by Darren Johnston, both with the support of Arts Council England.

Penumbra, referring to a partial shadow such as that which causes an eclipse, is a 3D animation, created to be projected outdoors onto the face of the newly restored 250-year old Dewar’s Lane Granary building, using the latest in mapping technology. The artists, County Durham based video artist Gareth Hudson (whose film Eventually screened at the Festival last year) and sound artist Jack Burton, were briefed to create a visual story about Berwick, and after researching and talking to people living locally, came across the legend of Jimmy Strength, a local strongman, known for lifting great weights, and for living to the grand old age of 115. Penumbra: the Long and Peculiar Life of Jimmy Strength will be previewed at Dewar’s Lane Granary following the opening film, 9pm – 10pm on Friday 23rd September. It will continue to be projected as a looped installation each evening, free of charge, from 8pm – 10.30pm until Sunday 25th.

Artist Gareth Hudson said today “It's exciting to be involved in this years festival and to have the freedom to explore Berwick, pick up some stories, then make a kick-ass 3D projection animation out of them for everyone to see. Brilliant.

Also employing state of the art technology is Maria, a new commission for the Bankhill Ice House, one of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival’s most unique and most loved locations. A 3D and life-size hologram projection, the piece features a flamenco dancer as she slowly emerges from the darkness to reveal an unexpected other world. A haunting comment on the thin line between perceptions of beauty and the grotesque, Maria is the creation of Darren Johnston, a director, choreographer, and artist, splitting his time between London and Berlin. Darren has previously collaborated with established musicians Aphex Twin, video artist Chris Cunningham, and a regular collaborator of Warp Records. Maria is being projected as part of the Artists’ Trail, 11am – 5.30pm, Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th September. The Artists’ Trail is free of charge, with no booking necessary.

The 2011 Festival also marks the World Premiere of Mare, a new commission for Northumberland County Council and produced in partnership with The Maltings Theatre & Cinema and with the Festival, and funded by Arts Council England. Created by established Faroese artists Marianna Morkore & Rannva Karadottir, known collectively as Rammatik, the work explores the erosion of the Berwick coastline, while the name of the piece refers to the folkloric spirit behind nightmares. Shot on the nearby beach, on Super-8, this performance piece features dancers from The Maltings’ Youth Drama and Dance Company. Mare will screen both as part of the Festival’s short film programme Tall Tales & Short Stories, at 3pm on Sunday 25th September at the Maltings Theatre & Cinema, as well as an installation at the Town Hall Prison Cells, as part of the Artists’ Trail, 11am – 5.30pm, Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th September.

Festival Director & Programmer Melanie Iredale concluded: “It’s definitely one of the things the festival does best – bringing regional, national and international artists to Berwick, to create work that is very much rooted in the town’s landscape and heritage locations. In turn, we know these works will be enjoyed by people who live and work in the area, but will also attract those interested in film and moving image art from across the country. It’s been great to work with Gareth & Jack, Darren, and Marianna & Rannva, and we look forward to premiering their work at the Festival, and to having them attend. That’s what makes commissioning new work, and being involved in new productions, so rewarding.

Booking Info:

Tickets are available to purchase now from and from the Maltings Theatre & Cinema’s Box Office: Eastern Lane, Berwick-upon-tweed, Northumberland, TD15 1AJ, UK.

Box Office: 01289 330999

Ticket prices vary, and are subject to a 50p online booking fee.
The Festival Pass, priced at £20 / £15 concessions, offers entry to all films (excluding The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, satellite events and workshops). Entry to the Artists’ Trail is free, with no need to book.

Travel Info:

To find out about getting to Berwick, including special coaches running directly to the Festival from Newcastle Central Station, and back again, for only £5, go to

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