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: Impressions From Rustaveli, Nana Tchitchoua

The annual Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is back for its fifteenth year from Thursday 19th-Sunday 22nd September. The programme promises heaps of creativity, including screenings, lectures and exhibitions celebrating the moving picture, and opens with the UK premiere of Carlos Casas’ Cemetery, exploring the journey to find a mythical elephant’s graveyard.

This year’s Filmmaker in Focus is Kira Muratova, whose work is posthumously honoured with a series of screenings, including her first work from 1967, Brief Encounters, the dramatic story of a love triangle between a wife, her husband and his mistress.

The Fantastika screenings explore cinematic adaptations of traditional legends by people from the very culture they originate. We’re all familiar with Grimm’s fairytales, or perhaps even Norse mythology, but how many of us can say we’re well versed in the Hungarian celebration of Busójárás, or the Zarma legend of The Ring of King Koda? The diverse beauty of myths and legends from different cultures is often one that goes underappreciated, but one that can stimulate and expand our imaginations. Also seeking to open our minds further will be a series of screenings under the Animistic Apparatus moniker, drawing inspiration from South East Asia’s ritualistic genealogy of artistic expression, with the highlight of the programme being a UK premiere of Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz’s film The Halt and a dawn to dusk eight hour screening of historical fantasy drama A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery.

BFMAF is the ideal opportunity to indulge in this year’s top picks of world cinema

Other works of note include the UK premiere of Aura Satz’s film Preemptive Listening, which takes in her research on sonic obedience and disobedience; feminist issues in the Philippines come under the microscope in Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Moral; Newcastle-based artist Holly Argent presents Group Action With KK, her performative lecture which investigates the Polish artistic duo KwieKulik; writer and curator Paul Clinton presents an illustrated lecture and screening of two works by pioneer of European queer cinema, Lionel Soukaz; while a screening of Marwa Arsanios’ Who Is Afraid Of Ideology? focuses on ecology, feminism, social organisation and nation building, and is followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker herself.    

Exhibitions also occupy Berwick’s empty shops and historic buildings to provide free access to those seeking an educational experience. Beyond the Field recreates Berwick’s 1700s soundscape using traditional folk instruments, while Double Ghosts compiles unrealised and fragmented histories in multimedia gathered from across the globe.

The Berwick New Cinema Competition seeks distinctive new cinema from around the world, irrespective of genre and form, with 23 of the best and most innovative pieces screened throughout the festival. The winner will be chosen from this year’s crop of exceptional contemporary short films in a ceremony preceding the closing film, Juan Rodriganez’s Rights of Man; a subversive piece which follows The Great Indomitable Circus as they prepare to perform their new show, navigating tensions between the acts as they go. Subtly playful and overtly amusing, it looks like the ideal film to tie up the festival.

For anyone who aspires to expand on a burgeoning cinema habit, BFMAF is the ideal opportunity to indulge in this year’s top picks of world cinema.

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival takes place at venues across Berwick-upon-Tweed from Thursday 19th-Sunday 22nd September

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