The 7th, and most successful, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival!


 The 7th, and most successful, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival!

The Festival came to a close just a week ago, having attracted 6,000 people to see film & moving image art by over 30 filmmakers & artists in 7 locations around the town and over 3 action-packed days.

Festival Director Melanie Iredale today said a BIG thank you to the team, and to the funders, venue-partners, supporters – and most of all audiences – who made the Festival possible. “We have really never had such good feedback on the programme as we’ve had in the last week or so. The ‘Once Upon a Time’ theme, and the filmmakers & artists, films & moving image art involved really captured people’s imaginations.”

Kicking off the event in style, was the world premiere of opening film I Am Nasrine, which Screen Daily reviewed as “A strong UK feature” describing it as an “impressively earnest tale of cultural differences and coming of age that has a faint tinge of some of the works of Ken Loach.”

Hosting the film’s first ever screening, Berwick attracted audiences of 300 to the Maltings Theatre & Cinema from the across the region and beyond, as well as the film’s director Tina Gharavi, and cast & crew, who came from as close as South Shields and as far as Paris.

The Opening Night continued with the unveiling of the Festival’s newly commissioned outdoor animated projection, Penumbra: The Long & Peculiar Life of Jimmy Strength by Gareth Hudson & Jack Burton and culminated in a gala reception.

Inspired by the local legends and projected onto the face of the Granary building, Penumbra was an ambitious new commission for the Festival, and enjoyed by hundreds of people over the course of the weekend.

Another new commission for the Festival, supported by Arts Council England, was Maria, a 3D hologram projection of a flamenco dancer, emerging from the darkness of Bankhill Ice House, by London & Berlin-based artist & choreographer Darren Johnston.

Celebrations continued on Saturday, with the Chris Anderson Award for Best Young Filmmaker, where a short-listed selection of films were presented by filmmakers aged under 19 from the North East & Scottish Borders. All were competing for a cash prize donated by the family of the late Chris Anderson, a chance to screen their film at Leeds Young People’s Film Festival 2012, and a signed poster by Chris’ son, and Resident Evil director, Paul W.S. Anderson for his forthcoming blockbuster The Three Musketeers. The winning film was Brian and Brian’s Amazing Eggventure Parts I, II & III, a bizarre and surreal stop motion animated adventure about a duck and a gorilla, both named Brian, by 17-year old Mark Boston from Berwick.

Saturday also featured a packed screening of Studio Ghibli’s Arrietty, which was voted as the audience’s favourite film of 2011, closely followed by I Am Nasrine.

Meanwhile, both the very young and the young at heart enjoyed the Unravel: The Longest Handpainted Film in Britain workshop, which involved over 100 participants drawing, painting & scratching directly on to 16mm film, and The Ice Book – which saw a beautiful fairy tale projected onto a pop-up book as part of a magical miniature theatre performance.

Sunday started with a screening of Jean Cocteau’s classic adaptation of ‘Beauty & The Beast’, La Belle et la Bete, from 1946 and from a genuinely old 35mm film print, while an original drawing from the film’s set designs sat in the foyer framed and on display, having been kindly loaned just that morning by owner Mr Laurence Johnston.

The second World Premiere of the Festival took place on Sunday when artists Marianna Morkore & Rannva Karadottir, as well as the performers from the Maltings Youth Dance & Drama Company, watched and celebrated the making of Mare – a Northumberland County Council commissioned short, which was shot on the nearby coastline.

Meanwhile, over at Café Curio, both young and old were enjoying tea and cake, along with a screening of the first ever adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland from 1903. The event marked a new venue for the Festival and a first-time partner in the Food Festival which took place in Berwick only a couple of weeks beforehand.

The Festival culminated with a popular live performance of The Blue Bird from 1918, with live accompaniment from Carl Heslop on the Compton Organ. Carl had restored the organ just last year, having found it abandoned in Berwickshire, and this event saw it return home, in its former glory. Following the event, audiences celebrated with a glass of bubbly – tinted blue, of course!

The 8th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is set to return in September - watch this space for details!