FEATURE: BERWICK FILM & MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Worldly Desires

Unique artistic voices will launch their annual rallying cry from the UK’s Northernmost town, as the 14th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival welcomes audiences from Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd September.

Central to this year’s programme is a series of screenings from Manila-based filmmakers Shireen Seno and John Torres, who present exhilarating works from their studio, film laboratory and library platform Los Otros. Seno’s films often centre around themes of memory and history – the UK premiere of Nervous Translation (Sunday 23rd) is an empathetic tale of innocence, while Big Boy takes in war and colonisation (Friday 21st); while Torres’ dreamlike Lukas The Strange delves into relationships and personal identity (Sunday 23rd, all at Maltings Main House). The duo host a seminar on their working methods at Maltings Henry Travers on Saturday 22nd.

Also of note is Screening The Forest, featuring stories from Japan, Myanmar, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, in which the forest takes on a living presence. Our top tips (all at Maltings Main House) include a screening of Forest Experiments, with a Q&A from the series curator Dr Graiwoot Chulphongsathorn (Thursday 20th); Genpin, which looks at the lives of expectant mothers at the heart of a dense Okazaki city forest; Palme d’Or winning filmmaker Apitchatpong Weerasethakul’s tale of forbidden love and mystery, Worldly Desires (both Sunday 23rd); and existential thriller Jin (Friday 21st).

The North East’s own CIRCA Projects reveal the first draft of their new co-authored work Islanders, by Giles Bailey, Jamie Hammill, Nellie Saunby and Sophie Soobramanien, which combines performance with filmed sequences exploring the construction of island identity, coming at a critical time when the UK’s relationships are in flux, Islanders’ focus is on isolation and rescue (Saturday 22nd, Maltings Henry Travers).

The Berwick New Cinema competition programme offers a typically diverse collection of films, from the mundane and the fantastic, to tales of transformation and transition

This year’s Visual Arts Artist in Residence Lucy Clout will discuss Solvent Magazine, her new sculptural and video-based work created during her residency with Berwick Visual Arts at Gymnasium Gallery (exhibition opening Thursday 20th, seminar Friday 21st); while Artist in Profile Sophia Al-Maria’s short moving image works combine surreal interviews with reality TV stars and enigmatic science fiction (Saturday 22nd, Maltings Main House), she’ll also be talking about her distinctive practices at Maltings Henry Travers on Sunday 23rd.

Special exhibitions make up an intriguing part of the festival’s programme. Among the highlights, Carolyn Lazard’s Consensual Healing features a conversation between a therapist and their client (at New Tower); Sophia Al-Maria’s fascinating and unnerving The Magical State depicts the possession of a Wayuu woman by a 40 million year old oil demon (at Magazine); and The Hurt Goes On sees Newcastle-based film collective Film Bee working with 15 young people from Berwick Youth Project to explore realty in a digital world (at 57 Marygate).

Also of note, Enceindre is a study in film and sound of two 16th Century fortified cities – Berwick and Pamplona in Northern Spain by sound recordist Chris Watson and artist-filmmaker Luke Fowler (Saturday 22nd, Maltings Main House); the restoration of Some Interviews On Personal Matters, one of the first feminist films of Soviet cinema, features interviews with women about their private and public lives (Sunday 23rd, Maltings Henry Travers); and the Berwick New Cinema competition programme offers a typically diverse collection of films screened at Maltings Main House, from the mundane and the fantastic, to tales of transformation and transition.

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2018 from BFMAF on Vimeo.

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