Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival

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Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (BFMAF) is an international celebration of the art of film. BFMAF has happened every September since the inaugural Festival in 2005.

The festival programme takes place across Berwick upon Tweed, England's most northerly town and includes exhibitions, film screenings and live events, as well as a young filmmakers award, school screenings and family activities. The festival is based at the local arts centre The Maltings Theatre and Cinema. During the five day festival film screenings, installations exhibitions and events occur in cinemas, museums, galleries and historic sites around the town.

Each year the festival commissions a range of work that may then go on to appear in other international festivals and venues. A range of projects, workshops and education work is carried out with communities in the town and further afield, into North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. The current team includes a board chaired by Huw Davies (co-founder), supported by a number of board members including Laura Simpson (Hospitalfields) and artist Matt Stokes. The festival is directed and curated by Peter Taylor (Festival Director, January 2015 – present).[1]

The 2015 programme saw the launch of Berwick New Cinema & an accompanying seminar series, featuring films described as ‘transgressing restraints of genre, capital and expectation’. Titles included the UK Premieres of ‘Mercuriales’ by Virgil Vernier, ‘A Distant Episode’ by Ben Rivers and ‘Limbo’ by Anna Sofie Hartmann, plus archive 35mm screenings of Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s ‘Salam Cinema’ and Pere Portabella’s ‘Vampir - Cuadecuc’. The 2016 Berwick New Cinema Competition winner was Camilo Restrepo with Ciloas, who went on to premier his film La Bouche in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes 2017.

Each year the festival also hosts a Young Filmmakers Showcase, exhibiting short films from young filmmakers under 19 years of age in the Scottish Borders and North East of England with two cash prizes for the best film in an Under 14s category and a 15–19 years category. The 15–19 years category is supported by director Paul W.S. Anderson which serves as a legacy to his late father, Chris Anderson.[2]

The festival was established in 2005 by current Chairman Professor Huw Davies[3] and artist Marcus Coates. The current director is Peter Taylor. As an Arts Council England National Portfolio organisation, BFMAF receives regular funding from Arts Council England[4] as well as the British Film Institute, this is supplemented through additional fundraising and corporate sponsorship.

Artist in Residency Scheme: 2013 - present[edit]

In 2012, the festival partnered with Berwick Visual Arts to develop an artist in residency scheme providing opportunities for artists working with moving image to create new work over a 6 month period in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

2013 Residency Cecilia Stenbom was the first artist to be awarded the artist in residency opportunity. During her residency period (March 2013 - September 2013) she created 'The Case', a moving image piece which premiered[5] at the 9th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival and responded to the theme 'North by Northeast.'

2014 Residency Video artist Katie Davies became the partnership's second artist in residence.[6] From March 2014 - September 2014, the artist lived and practiced in Berwick. Her film, 'The Lawes of the Marches' responded to the festival theme 'Border Crossing' and was premiered at the festival in September 2014.

2015 Residency The third residency was occupied by sound and video artist Paul Rooney.[7] The artist who created a piece of work to be premiered at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival that responded to the theme 'Fact or Fiction'.

2016 Residency In May 2016 artist Lucy Parker was selected as astist in residence. Lucy Parker’s research led practice adopts collaborative filmmaking methods when making work with a community. During her residency Lucy explored the theme of 'X' in two ways: "as the axis on the graph that measures change and as in the X file: a file given minimal-priority status and concerned with unexplained phenomena".

2017 Residency In April 2017 Charlotte Prodger was appointed artist in residence, with a proposal to "explore the complex intertwining of landspace, time and identity within the rural context of Northumberland". Charlotte Prodger works with moving image, sound, sculpture, writing and performance, mining the intertextual relationships between each of these materials.

Berwick New Cinema Competition 2016 - present[edit]

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival hosts the Berwick New Cinema Competition, an annual prize for the very best in artists’ moving image and new filmmaking. The Berwick New Cinema Competition features some of the most exciting and ambitious filmmakers working today, previous winners include Camilo Restrepo (Cilaos, 2016).

Inntravel Short Film Awards: 2013 - 2015[edit]

Inntravel Short Film Award
Inntravel Short Film Award presented at the 2014 Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival.

From 2013-2015 the festival's short film awards were supported by independent travel company Inntravel.[8] Inntravel is a North Yorkshire-based Slow holiday specialist tour operator. The award showcased and celebrated short form work being created across the UK and internationally, and was judged by a panel of industry figures and experts. Previous winners of the cash prize were: Mondial 2010 by Roy Dib from Lebanon (2014)[9] and Premature by Gunhild Enger from Norway (2013).[10]

Canadian artists Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson were the recipients of BFMAF's International Short Film Award.

BFMAF 2017: 20 - 24 Sept[edit]

BFMAF 2017 will include exhibitions, film screenings and live events, as well as a young filmmakers award, school screenings and family activities. The Festival hosts the Berwick New Cinema competition, an annual prize for the very best in artists’ moving image and new filmmaking.

BFMAF 2016: X[edit]

In 2016 the festival's somewhat ambiguous theme was 'X', described as "drive towards a liveness and agency—produced through an opening to the foreign or the unanticipated. The programme included a retrospective program ‘An Early Clue to the New Direction: Queer Cinema Before Stonewall’ curated by Thomas Beard, and saw the first Berwick New Cinema Award - which included artists Steve Reinke and Patrick Staff, as well as award winner Camilo Restrepo.

BFMAF 2015: Fact or Fiction[edit]

In 2015, Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival appointed a new director and curator, Peter Taylor, following the departure of its long serving director Melanie Iredale to join Sheffield Doc/Fest as Deputy Director.[11] Taylor took up post in January with the remit to deliver the 11th edition of the festival, themed 'Fact or Fiction'.

"We’ll look to incorporate work that challenges and questions our perceived notions of documentary and narrative film," said Taylor when discussing the theme, "including performance, re-enactment and re-interpretations of history and memory. This is a theme that’s completely pre-occupied with the moving image’s singular ability to bring us directly into the realm of the senses.”[12]

Artist in residence, Paul Rooney, will premiere a moving image piece as part of the festival programme.

BFMAF 2014: Border Crossing[edit]

In 2014, the festival presented its 10th edition[13] informed by the theme 'Border Crossing' (echoing the theme of the inaugural 2005 festival), the dates of the festival were specifically chosen to coincide with the Scottish independence referendum and its theme explored the concept of borders, "setting out to cross and transcend borders in all directions, exploring border identities all over the world." For the first time this year, the festival secured a major corporate sponsor, global strategic outsourcing firm, Mitie.[14]

In the same year, the festival won two awards for its successes in the region. In March 2014 the festival was awarded Best Community Event of the Year by the North East Press[15] and in April, Best Event Northumberland by The Journal Culture Awards.[citation needed]

Opening Film: Mamarosh (2013)[16] by Momcilo Mrdakovic.

BFMAF 2013: North by Northeast[edit]

In 2011, the festival's 9th edition,[17] themed 'North by Northeast' used its programme to explore North East England and Scotland’s connections to Northern Europe and to the North Sea.

Opening Film: The Hidden Child (2013)[18] by Per Hanefjord.

BFMAF 2012: Pictures in Motion[edit]

In 2012, the festival reverted to a run of five consecutive days and took the theme 'Pictures in Motion'[19] to examine the relationship between the still and moving image, attempting to raise questions about the nature of both in a digital world.

Opening Film: Chasing Ice (2012)[20] by Jeff Orlowski.

BFMAF 2011: Once Upon a Time[edit]

In 2011, the three-day 7th edition of the festival, 'Once Upon a Time',[21] explored the enchantment of fairy tales on film, from one of the very first examples of the genre, Alice in Wonderland (1903) through to the modern day.

Opening Film: I Am Nasrine (2011)[22] by Tina Gharavi.

BFMAF 2010: Stagings[edit]

In 2010, the 6th edition of the festival ran over five days and explored the theme 'Stagings', looking at the role of the screen as a stage and featuring, dance on film, music documentary, old classics and live performances.

Opening Film: The Keystone Cut Ups (2010)[23] by People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz.

BFMAF 2009: Drawing the Lines[edit]

In 2009, the 5th edition of the festival looked towards the representation of architecture and space on screen with 'Drawing the Lines'.[24]

Opening Film: Ballast (2008)[25] by Lance Hammer.

BFMAF 2008: Inner States[edit]

The 2008 festival was produced in collaboration with Northumberland Lights and as such explored the theme 'Inner States'[26] through light and sound as well as cinema.

Opening Film: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)[27] by Robert Wiene.

BFMAF 2007: Film on Film[edit]

The 3rd edition of the festival in 2007 ran for nine days and looked at ways in which artists and filmmakers use overt and conscious self-reference in the work they create with its theme 'Film on Film'.[28] This festival was produced in collaboration with guest curators Rebecca Shatwell (Director, AV Festival) and Iain Pate.

Opening Film: The Big Bad Swim (2006)[29] by Ishai Setton.

BFMAF Minifest 06[edit]

Produced as a smaller event following the positive response from the 2005 inaugural festival, the 2006 Minifest[30] was dedicated to the memory of Chris Anderson who had been an early supporter of the Festival and Chair of the 1st edition steering committee. Following his passing, his family set up the Chris Anderson Award to promote the work of young filmmakers which continues to form part of the festival programme today.

Opening Film: Bobby (2006)[31] by Emilio Estevez.

BFMAF 2005: Crossing Borders[edit]

The very first Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival was themed 'Crossing Borders',[32] it reflected Berwick-upon-Tweed's position as a border town, with the history and isolation that comes with a place falling between countries.

Opening Film: Jiminy Glick in Lalawood (2004)[33] by Vadim Jean.

External links[edit]


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