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

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Image: Estas vendo coisas (You are seeing things) Barbara Wagner Benjamin de Burca 2017

This year marks the thirteenth edition of Berwick’s lauded film and arts festival, which welcomes practitioners from across the globe to the border town from Wednesday 20th until Sunday 24th September.

One of the key successes of the annual event is in its ability to present utterly original and ground-breaking work, often in unusual locations. This year is no different, as the festival programme contains premieres, newly commissioned works exclusive to BFMAF, artist profiles and activities for all ages.

One of Central Asia’s most celebrated directors, Ali Khamraev from Uzbekistan, gets his first UK retrospective in what promises to be a real programme highlight. Noted for his flamboyant visual style, his work often tackles difficult subjects which comes close to the bone of Soviet-era censorship. His 1975 film Men Follows Birds, screened at The Maltings on Friday 22nd September, continues the director’s ‘Red Western’ style, offering a mystic vision and a medieval pageant of boyhood which encapsulate his masterful depiction of the natural world.

A series of films curated by Ilona Jurkonyte, artistic director of Kaunas International Film Festival in Lithuania, attempts to bring a new depth of understanding of the sea as a place where global politics play out. Ultramarine: The Sea As Political Space will see works by Kamal Aljafari, Forensic Architecture, Jean-Luc Godard, Basim Magdy and Emilia Skarnulyte at The Maltings from Thursday 21st until Sunday 24th September.

This year’s Artist in Residence is Jarman Award nominee Charlotte Prodger, whose new single-screen work will get its world premiere. Having spent six months in Berwick, the Glaswegian filmmaker has focused on the complex intertwining of landscape, identity and language to explore ideas of ‘rural queerness’.

One of the key successes of the annual event is in its ability to present utterly original and ground-breaking work, often in unusual locations. This year is no different

Further artist spotlights include major presentations from New York-based artist Peggy Ahwesh, which centres around an exhibition and three screenings cherry-picked from her vast collection of work which explores artists’ filmmaking and history, documentary strategies, feminism, queerness, punk, hypnosis, video game and internet culture, pornography and more. Glasgow-based Hardeep Pandhal reveals his specially commissioned video, sculpture, knitwear and rap tour-de-force, Konfessions Of A Klabautemann, which uses Berwick’s position as a coastal border town as a reference point for the legacy of India’s partition; the mythical Klabautemann figure watches over sailors for their safe return, but the sailors are doomed if he is ever seen.

Among the newly commissioned films to be screened will be the world premiere of Margaret Salmon’s Mm, commemorating the 50th season of Berwick’s own speedway stars, the Berwick Bandits. Salmon’s imaginative film offers a unique take on the popular and thrilling world of motorcycle racing, and a live performance from Scottish Album of the Year award winners, Sacred Paws, will see the night goes off full throttle at The Maltings on Saturday 23rd September.

Margaret Salmon’s work for younger viewers also gets an airing on the afternoon of Saturday 23rd, also at The Maltings, as Eglantine follows a young girl’s fantastical adventure as her family camping trip turns into a badger hunt in a remote forest. More screenings for young people are on offer on Sunday 24th as school screenings and weekend family films take over The Maltings. A drop-in bean bag cinema welcomes film lovers on Berwick High Street from Thursday 21st until Sunday24th September, with free activities for young people and children from 11am-5pm.

New works and cutting edge art is a mainstay of the festival too, with the Berwick New Cinema Competition showcasing the very best new artists in the moving image and filmmaking world. Seminars will also take place across the five day festival, with programmers and curators discussing their work.

With further screenings, exhibitions and weird and wonderful goings on to be announced, the thirteenth edition of BFMAF promises to be a lucky one indeed for attendees.


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