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Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival Sept 17-21 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
11 09 2014

ImageBerwick clocks up the tenth edition of its burgeoning festival at a momentous time for this most Scottish of English towns, opening on the eve of the Scottish independence referendum. Appropriately for a place where so many of its citizens' work or trade or leisure involves crossing the border just over 2 miles away, the theme of the festival is ‘Border Crossing', with films and installations representing aspects of borders and nationhood in a Scottish and international perspective. What makes Berwick really special as well as the films is that because of its compact size and number of interesting spaces, from historic civic buildlngs to city ramparts to cafes, throughout the festival you are never far away from installations and exhibitions on every side.

Central place for screenings is the Maltings Cinema, where the festival opens with Mamarosh, a Serbian film about diffident projectionist Pera who during the NATO bombings in 1999 flees to America with his mother, where he finds the rampant digitalising of his profession means he cannot do the only job he knows and loves. His attempts to reclaim the rapidly disappearing world of celluloid for audiences is a sweet, quirky and sharply funny account of how it is to cope with things that change and seem beyond our control. Closing film is the highly acclaimed, multi-award winning Ida by UK-based Pawel Pawlikowski (review here).

The festival is particularly strong in documentaries. The Mulberry House, by Yemeni/Scottish film maker Sara Oshaq and The Uprising, compiled from many individual videos from across the Middle East, are both accounts of experiences during the Arab Spring, while Forbidden Voices features famous bloggers from Cuba, Iran and China fearlessly speaking out against their governments. More contemplative are Keeping House by Ian Fenton and Jacob Polley, an affectionate portrait of William Cowe's now defunct Cockle Shop in Berwick, and Eric Steele's Kiss the Water, a poetic look at fish-fly-making, a dreamy and sensual blend of film and hand-painted animation set on the remote coast of northern Scotland. Also unorthodox is La Mia Classe (Daniele Gaglianone), described as ‘true fiction' about a class of individuals learning Italian, where a set-up situation (actor ‘acting' the teacher) becomes a true documentary involving all the film makers too.

The Middle East is also present in two of the feature films: Inbetween Worlds, portraying the complex relationships of European soldiers with locals in Agfhanistan, and the charming Giraffada, a fantastical real-life tale of a boy and his grandfather's against-the-odds quest to bring a giraffe from Tel Aviv zoo to the West Bank. Two more films that young people will enjoy are Horizon Beautiful, made in conjunction with film students in Ethiopia, where football entrepreneur Franz travels to Ethiopia to promote football and discovers a talented street kid desperate for a future as a player -adventures ensue - and Approved for Adoption, programmed by children from local schools, about Jung, a South Korean orphan adopted by a Belgian family.

West is set in 70s East Germany, with Nelly and her son travelling into West Germany to find out what has become of her former lover. The archive feature presentation is Powell & Pressburger's shimmering black and white delight from 1945 I Know Where I'm Going, a trans-Scottish-border romance, and Scottish Screen Archive compilation documentary From Scotland with Love is showing just over the border at Paxton House (minibus provided).

Festival passes are available for the full programme of films, events and exhibitions at only £35 for the full 5 days. See details at. www.berwickfilm.artsfest.com

Berwick will be buzzing!

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