Last week’s Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival welcomed more people to the town than ever before, attracting 7,891 audiences from across the UK!
Using the historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed as one big cinema screen, the programme featured 77 new films and moving image art installations, with 13 world premieres and 12 UK premieres – all presented across 12 unique locations ranging from Festival hub, The Maltings, to heritage sites including Bankhill Ice House, and the Town Hall Prison Cells, across the town and along the town walls. Over 40 artists and filmmakers in the programme travelled to Berwick from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, as well as across the UK.
The BBC’s Film programme presenter Danny Leigh was one of the many Festival guests this year, describing the Festival as “Joyous, inventive and thought provoking a film festival as any town could wish for – it felt like all of Berwick was filled with things to see, and everything I saw was enthralling.”
Highlights of this year’s Festival included:
• A sell-out Opening Gala night, sponsored by Arch – The Northumberland Development Company, with the international premiere of The Hidden Child, which followed the world premiere of artist Cecilia Stenbom’s new commission The Case (commissioned in partnership with Berwick Visual Arts’ residency programme). The Case was introduced by artist Cecilia Stenbom, while lead actress Claudia Galli Concha and director Per Hanefjord of The Hidden Child – who happened to be in town on his birthday, was delighted to receive a traditional Swedish birthday cake. The Hidden Child will go on from Berwick to London to be screened at the Nordic Film Festival in November.
• Other guests included esteemed Hollywood Reporter film critic Neil Young who introduced Festen, artists Alex Nevill and Lars Harald Gathe who premiered their short films within the Coast to Coast programme, and Kari Anne Moe who introduced her documentary Bravehearts. The Festival team is delighted with the number of artists and talent who came to Berwick to experience the Festival - more artists than ever before came to visit the town and raved about their experience of both the festival and the town itself.
• BBC Film’s Danny Leigh introduced a packed audience to Grierson’s seminal silent documentary Drifters with newly commissioned live score by Field Music, presented with whisky courtesy of sponsors Simpsons Malt. Drifters with Field Music’s live score will go on to be performed at Illuminations on 9th November and on 1st February 2014 at Aldeburgh Music’s PLACE weekend.
• Festival commission Study for Composition X by Sidsel Christensen, filmed in Berwick this summer in an ambitious film shoot which saw the artist perform in a hoop suspended from the Royal Tweed Bridge, was presented in a stunning installation in Gymnasium Gallery.
• The winner of the inaugural Inntravel Award for Best Short Film, Premature by Norwegian filmmaker Gunhild Enger, was announced by prestigious Jury members, Nick James of BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine, artist-curator Anna Linder from Sweden and German filmmaker Eva Weber, with a special mention for Suddenly Last Summer by Finnish artist Juha Mäki-Jussila.
• Young filmmaker Alex Ayre from Northumberland won the Chris Anderson Award of £200 towards their next film project, with his short documentary Kitman, while Kitman’s cinematographer Joe Kroese was also awarded a scholarship to the National Youth Film Academy for his special contribution to the film. The jury also awarded 2 further scholarships to the National Youth Film Academy, to Caitlin Ivory for her brilliant direction of Rockhopper and to Yutsil Martinez for his outstanding role in The Man with No Man.
• Following the Young Filmmakers Showcase, sponsored by NYFA, young programmers from Berwick Youth Project’s Open Door Film Club introduced Kauwboy, which was voted the audience’s favourite film of the festival.
• Dummy Jim BSL-interpreted screening and Q&A, and related installation Better to Wear out Shoes, was the culmination of a three week residency and a number of workshops, with director Matt Hulse, lead actor Samuel Dore and lead knitter Jeni Reid all in Berwick.
• Children took part with workshops related to the School Screenings they attended, drawing Moomins for a competition with Berwick Library, and making Viking hats for Wickie and the Treasure of the Gods as part of our youth programme.
Plans are already underway for the Festival’s 10th anniversary edition – a significant achievement for the Festival and town – with dates confirmed as Wednesday 17th – Sunday 21st September 2014.
Look out for an open call for submissions and calls for proposals for a new commission, plus a residency opportunity in partnership with Berwick Visual Arts.