Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival

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Berwick-upon-Tweed Film and Media Arts Festival is an annual film festival described as a "celebration of the art of film", running for five days each September, the festival is set in the historic border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The festival was established in 2005 by current Chairman Professor Huw Davies[1] and artist Marcus Coates, with the vision to introduce audiences to new work and cross borders between independent cinema and artists' film and video.

It is a 'promenade' event using the fabric of the town as its screen, under an overarching theme. Outside projections and screenings make use of the historic town walls, bridges and courtyards. Film screenings use museums, galleries, churches and the local arts centre The Maltings Theatre and Cinema.

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 Samm Haillay (filmmaker and producer).[2] The festival is directed and curated by Peter Taylor (Festival Director, January 2015 – present).[3]

Notably, each year the festival 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.[4]

Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival receives regular funding from Arts Council England[5] and 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 an opportunity for an artist working with moving image to create a new piece of work in response to the festival theme of that particular year.

2013 Residency - in 2012 the call for proposals resulted in filmmaker Cecilia Stenbom being awarded the first artist in residency opportunity. During the residency period (March 2013 - September 2013) the artist created 'The Case', a moving image piece which premiered[6] at the 9th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival and responded to the theme 'North by Northeast.'

2014 Residency- in 2013 the call for proposals led to video artist Katie Davies becoming the partnerships second artist in residence.[7] 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 on 18 September 2014.

2015 Residency- in March 2015, it was reported that the third residency would be occupied by sound and video artist Paul Rooney.[8] The artist will create a piece of work to be premiered at the 11th edition of the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival between 23 and 27 September 2015 and will respond to the theme 'Fact or Fiction'.

Inntravel Short Film Awards: 2013 - present[edit]

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

Since 2013 the festival's competitive stream, the short film awards, has been supported by independent travel company Inntravel.[9] Inntravel is a North Yorkshire-based Slow holiday specialist tour operator and has worked with the Festival to highlight the short form.[10]

The award showcases and celebrates the short form work being created across the UK and internationally, and is judged by a panel of industry figures and experts. Each year, the festival opens its call for submissions and selects a certain number of short films meeting an advertised specified criteria fitting the current Festival theme to be part of the short film competition and awards ceremony.

Shortlisted entries are then screened during Inntravel Short Film Awards programme, which typically occurs over the weekend of the Festival. Each year, one winning entry is chosen by the panel to receive a cash prize.[11]

Previous winners of the cash prize have been: Mondial 2010 by Roy Dib from Lebanon (2014)[12] and Premature by Gunhild Enger from Norway (2013).[13]

Fact or Fiction: 23-27 Sept 2015[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.[14] 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.”[15]

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

Border Crossing: 17-21 Sept 2014[edit]

In 2014, the festival presented its 10th edition[16] 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.[17]

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[18] and in April, Best Event Northumberland by The Journal Culture Awards.[citation needed]

Opening Film: Mamarosh (2013)[19] by Momcilo Mrdakovic.

North by Northeast: 25-29 Sept 2013[edit]

In 2011, the festival's 9th edition,[20] 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)[21] by Per Hanefjord.

Pictures in Motion: 19-23 Sept 2012[edit]

In 2012, the festival reverted to a run of five consecutive days and took the theme 'Pictures in Motion'[22] 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)[23] by Jeff Orlowski.

Once Upon a Time: 23-25 Sept 2011[edit]

In 2011, the three-day 7th edition of the festival, 'Once Upon a Time',[24] 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)[25] by Tina Gharavi.

Stagings: 15-19 Sept 2010[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)[26] by People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz.

Drawing the Lines: 18-20 Sept 2009[edit]

In 2009, the 5th edition of the festival looked towards the representation of architecture and space on screen with 'Drawing the Lines'.[27]

Opening Film: Ballast (2008)[28] by Lance Hammer.

Inner States: 28-30 Nov 2008[edit]

The 2008 festival was produced in collaboration with Northumberland Lights and as such explored the theme 'Inner States'[29] through light and sound as well as cinema.

Opening Film: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)[30] by Robert Wiene.

Film on Film: 21-29 Sept 2007[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'.[31] This festival was produced in collaboration with guest curators Rebecca Shatwell (Director, AV Festival) and Iain Pate.

Opening Film: The Big Bad Swim (2006)[32] by Ishai Setton.

Minifest 06: 1-3 Dec 2006[edit]

Produced as a smaller event following the positive response from the 2005 inaugural festival, the 2006 Minifest[33] 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)[34] by Emilio Estevez.

Crossing Borders: 16-25 Sept 2005[edit]

The very first Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival was themed 'Crossing Borders',[35] 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)[36] by Vadim Jean.

External links[edit]


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  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-10. Retrieved 2015-04-04. 
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  10. ^ "About Inntravel". Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
  11. ^ "Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival". Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
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