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

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Image: Film still from Fi Dem II, Zinzi Minott, 2019

Setting a genuinely high standard (so high that it was recently named by MovieMaker as one of the Top 25 coolest film festivals in the world) the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (BFMAF) has gone from strength to strength during its 15 year history; wowing visitors with both the size and breadth of its diverse programmes.

BFMAF will switch to an online festival this year, which will take place from Thursday 17th September-Sunday 11th October, in an attempt to maintain the event’s status whilst trying to provide solutions to the challenges COVID-19 presents. BFMAF have curated a superb programme for 2020 in a move designed to maintain their reputation as being both a fun and ground breaking cultural initiative.

Continuing the festival’s ambition to focus heavily on new cinema and artists’ moving image, this year’s BFMAF looks to increase the opportunities for visitor participation by surrounding the work of featured artists’ and filmmakers’ with conversation, new writing and podcasts; giving audiences a chance to interact with artistic endeavours through a rich programme of films, talks and new writing which they can explore in their own time.

Although mindful that a change to the festival’s structure might impact some of its core strengths, Festival Director Peter Taylor is convinced that the event’s new format will remain world-class and full of the type of inspiring art it has become known for: “Over the last months we have needed to reimagine what Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival might be. Not just for now, but the future too. As ever, that is a work in progress and exciting to share.”

Over the last months we have needed to reimagine what Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival might be. Not just for now, but the future too. As ever, that is a work in progress and exciting to share

Still ironing out the final details and timetable of its festival, at the time of going to press BFMAF have confirmed that their traditional fan-favourite categories of Filmmakers in Focus and New Artists Commissions would both continue. In addition, a remodelled New Cinema Competition will showcase short and feature-length films; Propositions will be a hybrid of discussions and online screenings which will deep-dive into new cinema; and Essential Cinema will provide a revisionist view of classic works of cinema.

Particular highlights of note in this years Filmmakers in Focus category includes work by Ayo Akingbade, whose work addresses notions of urbanism and power; French/Moroccan filmmaker Izza Génini explores identity and Moroccan musical heritage in her influential work; Indian director Payal Kapadia’s films are distinctly ethereal; while Angelo Madsen Minax’s multi-disciplinary work explores queer and trans experiences.

Similarly the New Artist’s Commissions for 2020 looks particularly strong with recently announced works by artists Renèe Helèna Browne and Zinzi Minott premiering at the festival. Browne’s piece, Daddy’s Boy, is a personal exploration of the influence of paternal lines on bodily experiences of gender; while Minott’s Fi Dem III focuses on the relationship between dance, bodies and politics, reflecting the legacy of the Windrush Generation and how dance is perceived through the prisms of race, queer culture, gender and class.

The 16th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival will take place online from Thursday 17th September-Sunday 11th October. Keep an eye on the website for the full festival programme

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