FEATURE: Berwick Film & Visual Arts Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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For fans of ground-breaking visual art, it doesn’t get much better than a long weekend in the lovely borders town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The eleventh Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival will take over the town from Wednesday 23rd until Sunday 27th September, bringing works by highly respected filmmakers from around the world; with premieres and retrospectives, as well as installations and live performances, the programme is packed full of goodies.

This year’s theme revolves around Fact or Fiction, and aims to challenge preconceived notions of documentary and narrative film, as festival director Peter Taylor explains: “2015’s Fact or Fiction programme at Berwick is about allowing audiences to ask questions and experience processes that get to the real essence of cinema. The Festival is preoccupied with the moving image’s singular ability to transcend binaries of black and white type or notions of authenticity. Cinema brings us into a realm of the senses, where we can experience something much more ambiguous, ambitious and complex.”

Included in the festival’s line-up is a world premiere of Northern Irish filmmaker Seamus Harahan’s series, Fucking Finland. Filmed over the last decade, the series traces the unintended cultural links in the iron curtain, engaging in social and cultural environments. The short film Your Silent Face will screen for the first time as part of the finished series, and a retrospective programme of Harahan’s films will also be screened as part of the festival’s New Cinema programme.

seamus harahan

“Cinema brings us into a realm of the senses, where we can experience something much more ambiguous, ambitious and complex”

Also looking at social change in Eastern Europe, sculptor turned filmmaker Deimantas Narkevičius focuses on the relationship between personal memory and political history. The artist’s work will be displayed across the town and he’ll be making an appearance at The Maltings Theatre & Cinema.

Taking a sideways look at heritage through the local and non-local perceptions of Berwick, CIRCA Project’s site-specific events will include the launch of a new map by artist Ant Macari and a performance by harpist Rhodri Davies.

With its eye on contemporary and innovative internationally acclaimed works, the festival launches a new programme entitled Berwick New Cinema, opening up debate around the art of cinema and enabling an outlet for filmmakers who push their genre to the very limits. The programme will comprise short films, seminars, one-on-one sessions and critical debate.

A variety of subjects are tackled elsewhere, from experimental live opera in Grace Schwindt’s Little Rose And A Demon; the world premiere of Still At Large, festival artist-in-residence Paul Rooney’s new work, which takes inspiration from Roman Polanski’s 1966 Lindisfarne-shot film Cul-de-Sac; a fusion of the past, present and future of Keilder Forest, as imagined by Kathleen Herbert’s A History of the Receding Horizon; the Festival welcomes the European premiere of Peter Burr’s Cave Exists, an experimental multimedia narrative set inside a four-channel video cube, plus there’s much more to be added to the programme over the coming weeks.

Add to all this, an impressive year-round legacy, including residencies for artists and filmmakers and audio-visual commissions, and it’s clear that the ambitious festival continues to exceed its own high standards, offering innovative, boundary breaking and insightful art. Don’t miss it.

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival takes place at various locations in the town from Wednesday 23rd until Sunday 27th September.

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