17th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2021

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The Festival continues online until 30 September including performances, screenings, in-conversations, exhibitions, podcast and commissioned texts.

Buy your ticket or accreditation for £10 and gain access to the whole Festival!

Anti-Archive

A Scale Boy

Kavich Neang’s first film is a short documentary following Sory Chan, a 14-year-old boy who is living in Phnom Penh apart from his family. A student of Cambodian classical music, Sory lives with his mother’s friend after his mother fled a debt she couldn’t afford to pay back.

New Cinema Awards

A body is a body is a body, Alternative Economies, Galb’Echaouf, Matt Means Land SDH Captions

This screening will be accompanied with in person conversations with Éiméar McClay & Cat McClay (a body is a body is a body) and Rehana Zaman (Alternative Economies).

Alternative Economies
Galb'Echaouf
Rehana Zaman
Abdessamad El Montassir

New Cinema Awards

Alternative Economies SDH Captions

Alternative Economies was made in conversation with herbalist Rasheeqa Ahmad and financial services regulator Rachel Bardiger. The film discusses the imperialist exploits of the Disney character Scrooge McDuck, and the apparently radical yet deeply compromised promises of crypto­currency.

Rehana Zaman

Anti-Archive

Anti-Archive Shorts

This collection of short form work by the Cambodian filmmakers associated with the production company Anti-Archive shows the breadth and quality of their filmmaking.

A Scale Boy
Kavich Neang

Essential Cinema

Back Inside Herself SDH Captions

Described by S. Pearl Sharp as “a visual poem on identity”, Back Inside Herself shows a Black woman finding her own sense of self and rejecting hegemonic societal expectations of who she should be and how she should behave.

S. Pearl Sharp

Online Exhibitions

Back Inside Ourselves

Back Inside Ourselves is an online exhibition inspired by S. Pearl Sharp’s Back Inside Herself which plays in our Essential Cinema Strand. Featuring three recent works by filmmakers Ufuoma Essi, Tako Taal, and Rhiana Bonterre.

Ufuoma Essi, Tako Taal, Rhiana Bonterre

Essential Cinema

Back Inside Ourselves – Workshop SDH Captions

Back Inside Ourselves is a workshop that features three recent works by filmmakers Tako Taal (DUMP_outthroughthemouth), Rhiana Bonterre (Rhythms of my Silence) and Ufuoma Essi (Bodies in Dissent). Their works are brought into dialogue with S.

Back Inside Herself
DUMP_outhroughthemouth
Bodies In Dissent
Rhythms of my Silence
S. Pearl Sharp
Tako Taal
Ufuoma Essi
Rhiana Bonterre

Anti-Archive

Boding

Kanitha Tith’s 2014 artist film Boding is an evocative portrait of Phnom Penh’s White Building, Cambodia’s first public housing project built for moderate-income residents during the early 1960s.

Kanitha Tith

Anti-Archive

California Dreaming

Sreylin Meas’ first film follows a simple scenario in creating a stunning work of loneliness and connection shot at an oceanfront resort. Sarita travels to the seaside to take a break from her hectic life and family obligations.

Sreylin Meas

Anti-Archive

Cambodia 2099

Cambodia 2099 is a fictional short by Davy Chou which, on the face of it, consists of three characters whose interactions drive the film’s action. Sotha (artist Sotha Kun) and Kavich (Anti-Archive filmmaker Kavich Neang) meet on a sunny day in Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island to discuss their dreams from the night before.

Davy Chou

Propositions

Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley: When Amongst our Own

When we are amongst our own our labels disappear. We become more than we usually are. We can finally get closer to ourselves, shedding a layer of unwanted eyes. This moment of real home amongst family is presented in a virtual tour around the 3D rendered city “FAM”.

New Cinema Awards

El Planeta SDH Captions

Amalia Ulman’s debut feature is a dark comedy. El Planeta explores contemporary poverty, deception, class, and escapism through a tender mother-daughter relationship, played by Ulman and her real-life mother.

Amalia Ulman

SPS Community Media

Entrance Exam

In a village in central India, dedicated school teachers put their heart and soul into preparing a group of children for an entrance exam for a Government-run “School of Excellence.” Entrance Exam explores the stakes of the opportunities afforded by this continued, subsidised education for underprivileged children, as well as the many layers of struggle in this intense and surprising journey.

Aditya Verma

Online Event

25 September 2021, 15:00

Rajee Samarasinghe

Everyday Star

Everyday states of being and decay are observed through the infinite scope of the cosmos and the restorative light which emanates from it, driving cinematic and photographic impulses.

Rajee Samarasinghe

Essay

Rajee Samarasinghe

FOREIGN QUARTERS

The condition of distance, genetic to the ethnographic image, traces the elusive qualities of Samarasinghe’s mother’s past and persona as a woman of partial Chinese heritage.

Rajee Samarasinghe

New Cinema Awards

Feast SDH Captions

In Tim Leyendekker’s debut feature film, victims, perpetrators and their observers offer entangled viewpoints on the 2007 Groningen HIV case in the Netherlands. In this case, three men hosting sex parties drugged others and injected them with their own HIV-infected blood.

Tim Leyendekker

Introduction

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

Fifth Cinema

Fifth Cinema begins with a quiet statement “I am a filmmaker, as you know.” That text and what follows, by Maori filmmaker Barry Barclay, who coined the term ‘Fourth Cinema’ to distinguish Indigenous cinema from the established ‘First, Second, and Third Cinema’ framework, provides structure to Nguyễn’s hybrid essay film that moves on multiple cinematic and topical terrains.

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

Online Event

25 September 2021, 11:00

Online Event

18 September 2021, 12:00

Online Event

18 September 2021, 19:00

New Cinema Awards

Galb’Echaouf SDH Captions

Galb’Echaouf delves into the idea of amnesia as the result of an extreme and destructive political context which generated shame and guilt. Conflicts put an end to freedom of movement, and most importantly, to the transmission of types of knowledge passed down over centuries.

Galb'Echaouf
Abdessamad El Montassir

Introduction

New Cinema Awards

Golden Jubilee SDH Captions

Suneil Sanzgiri’s recent video trilogy is shown here, in full, for the first time. The series is bookended by his attempts to recreate the landscapes of his father’s birth place in Curchorem, Goa. All three films utilise an aesthetics of distance and proximity to gesture to tensions, possibilities and replications when we search for ourselves in the remnants of colonial histories.

At Home but Not at Home
Letter From Your Far-Off Country
Suneil Sanzgiri

Introduction

Anti-Archive

Golden Slumbers

Golden Slumbers is a feature documentary on the legacy and contemporary traces of the “golden age” of Cambodian cinema which emerged from the 1960s and into the 1970s. During this period, several hundred feature films were produced and exhibited in cinemas across the country, and even in some cases internationally.

Davy Chou

SPS Community Media

Hailstorm

Hailstorm is based in the Narmada valley in central India, an area with extremely low levels of groundwater. Farmers here battle for survival, pitched against the vagaries of climate change. Following the events of a freak hailstorm over four seasons, the film unfolds the vulnerability and precarity of those that are at the sharpest end of global capitalism’s rapacious greed and the furthest from its benefits.

Propositions

Hair is a Piece of Head

“The question always has been whether these stories of Hawai‘i have any worth to anyone in Gwangju, or vice versa. Furthermore, should the worth be the end of all stories? Why should one care, and how does one really care about the trouble beyond a national border, let alone the border of one’s skin?

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

How to Improve the World

Resisting the westernised reliance on images for creating narratives, telling stories and experiencing the world, How to Improve the World turns to music and sound as a way of perceiving through listening.

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

How to Improve the World & Landscape Series #1

Nguyễn Trinh Thi is one of Vietnam’s leading contemporary artists. Her moving image work engages with the ways in which memory, history and representation are part of broader structures of power, the legacies of colonialism and war, and the erasure of indigenous Vietnamese cultures.

New Cinema Awards

Idrish (ইদ্রিস) SDH Captions

The Festival opens with the world premiere of Idrish (ইদ্রিস) by Adam Lewis Jacob (UK, Bangladesh, 2021). Idrish acts as an urgent and potent piece of anti-deportation activism. With reports of deportation flights regularly in the news, the film is rich with resonance to our current moment.

Idrish
Adam Lewis Jacob

Propositions

If From Every Tongue it Drips SDH Captions

Made between three locations, artist and filmmaker Sharlene Bamboat’s latest work is assembled through a call and response exchange of sound, text and image. Interested in the framework of voice, vibration, time, sound and language that quantum physics explores, Bamboat’s new film emerges from an exchange of theoretical entanglements but is practiced and rendered through bodily ones.

Sharlene Bamboat

Rajee Samarasinghe

If I Were Any Further Away I’d Be Closer to Home

A silent poem reflecting on the place of the filmmaker’s mother’s birth and her first traces on earth. A generational portrait of South Asian “makers” becomes a perceptual voyage into memory, experience and touch.

Rajee Samarasinghe

Rajee Samarasinghe

Invisible Touch

Rajee Samarasinghe’s body of work tackles contemporary sociopolitical conditions in Sri Lanka through the scope of his own identity and the deconstruction of ethnographic practices. BFMAF 2021 presents a series of Samarasinghe’s 12 short films shot over a decade—an archive of images navigating the terrain of migration, memory, and impermanence.

Introduction

New Cinema Awards

La Nave SDH Captions

In La Nave, Colombian artist and first-time filmmaker Carlos Maria Romero (aka Atabey Mamasita) translates the meaning and spirit of Carnival de Barranquilla during a year in which gatherings were forbidden.

Carlos Maria Romero

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

Landscape Series #1

As the journey starts, wide empty landscapes make one wonder what one is looking for. A mysterious object? A crime scene? Something horrifying? The scenes are getting more and more specific, but they do not lead to any concrete solution—only an injury in place of a metaphor.

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

Anti-Archive

Last Night I Saw You Smiling SDH Captions

Last Night I Saw You Smiling finds filmmaker Kavich Neang documenting the final days of the White Building. An architectural landmark in Phnom Penh built in the 1960s, the building was earmarked for destruction in 2017.

Kavich Neang

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

Letters from Panduranga

An essay film in the form of a letter exchange, Nguyễn’s personal and poetic film explores the complex legacy of cultural and historical occupation, its ongoing presence in the indigenous Cham community, and her role as an artist.

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

New Cinema Awards

Maat means Land SDH Captions

In Maat means Land, Fox Maxy (Ipai Kumeyaay and Payómkawichum) has created an intoxicating and urgent film collage that gives invigorating expression to contemporary Indigenous identity, culture and experience.

Fox Maxy

New Cinema Awards

Manifesto

Manifesto establishes a multifaceted portrait of an arts academy which has been recently subsumed into a large national university. Through frank and revealing discussions with students, teachers, administrators and other staff, Ane Hjort Guttu establishes links between seemingly disparate topics—from architecture and surveillance to neoliberalism and dysfunctionality—embedded within the framework of contemporary academia.

Ane Hjort Guttu

Introduction

New Cinema Awards

Manifesto, Tender Point Ruin, Suspiration!

This screening will be accompanied with an in person conversation with Camara Taylor (suspiration!) and will take place at The Maltings in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Tender Point Ruin
Sophia Al-Maria

Rajee Samarasinghe

Misery Next Time

This associative stream of visuals, culled from the past, reflect on the roles of art, labor and journalism in contemporary Sri Lanka, facing a dubious future ahead. Memory and ethnographic deconstruction cascade in an obliterated form, forging a dire and prescient assemblage.

Rajee Samarasinghe

Online Exhibitions

NOTES (on programming BFMAF 2021)

These are notes on planning and programming the Festival this year, open for comment on a google doc. Fragments from documents that guided our planning and programming process are opened out for comment to accredited guests between 15-22 September after which we will host a discussion between Festival Director Peter Taylor, Head of Programming Jemma Desai and writer and programmer Abby Sun reflecting on the collective writing process.

Online Event

24 September 2021, 11:00

Essential Cinema

One Way or Another

Made by pioneering Cuban filmmaker Sara Gómez, One Way or Another is a bold work of revolutionary feminism and a compelling and complex picture of Cuban life under socialism. Radical in its honest and unflinching assessment of the difficulties of living in a newly formed socialist society, it astutely shows the struggles of marginalised communities adapting to revolutionary ideals, whilst casting a critical lens on the machismo, class and race discrimination that was still present in Castro’s post-revolutionary Cuba.

Sara Gómez

Essential Cinema

One Way or Another + Back Inside Herself SDH Captions

Watch One Way or Another (1977) Sara Gómez’s “bold work of revolutionary feminism” alongside Back Inside Herself (1984) by S. Pearl Sharp. Back Inside Herself is newly restored by Cinenova and will be accompanied by On the Inside a prose poem by London-based poet Sarah Lasoye.

Back Inside Herself
S. Pearl Sharp

Propositions

Online Collaborative Performance

Filmmaker Zia Anger and movement artist Monica Mirabile present a performative conversation, working through their collaborative practice and a hypothetical future work. Broadcast on Thursday 16 September, 7pm

Introduction

New Cinema Awards

Passion of Remembrance SDH Captions

In Passion of Remembrance, Salad Hilowle creates a personal and evocative meditation on Black Swedish identity. Collage-like, Hilowle interlaces archive footage taken from 90s Swedish television with contemporary scenes filmed in rural and urban settings.

Salad Hilowle

Online Event

19 September 2021, 18:00

Work in Progress

Rising Up at Night: Work in Progress

After an election that has shaken its already precarious political and economic stability, DR Congo is trying to revive its project to build Africa’s largest power plant on the Congo River. Kinshasa, the capital, remains in darkness while its population struggles for access to light.

Nelson Makengo

New Cinema Awards

Rock Bottom Riser SDH Captions

Rock Bottom Riser is an immersive, exploratory and deeply inquisitive study of an island world at sea. The film fashions a layered and heterogeneous portrait of Hawaii through its cosmogony, its uncertain future and the scattered lens of the present.

Fern Silva

Introduction

Propositions

SEEMAWORLD

SEEMAWORLD is an immersive, multi-channel realm and streaming facility. It’s comprised of the mimicry of multiple amenities and services—which act as portals to a specific aspect of SEEMAWORLD.

NO BLASPHEMIES (2021)
BERWICKWORLD
Seema Mattu

Online Exhibitions

SEEMAWORLD

SEEMAWORLD is an immersive, multi-channel realm and streaming facility. It’s comprised of the mimicry of multiple amenities and services—which act as portals to a specific aspect of SEEMAWORLD.

BERWICKWORLD
Seema Mattu

Introduction

New Cinema Awards

Shared Resources SDH Captions

Made over five years, Shared Resources depicts the filmmaker’s family after they declare bankruptcy due to debt accrued from the loss of their home in Hurricane Katrina. Use of captioning and visual description act both as points of access and autonomy for his subjects: Jordan Lord asks their family, their filmmaking community and us, the film’s audiences—what does it mean to owe each other everything?

Jordan Lord

Rajee Samarasinghe

Show Me Other Places

At the centre of this film is a Sri Lankan woman accessing other places in digital form, while situated in her own physical reality. Navigating through a multitude of spaces from the natural world to man-made environments as well as virtual planes, traditional relationships between the creator, the tool, and the subject are questioned, shattered and reconstructed.

Rajee Samarasinghe

Anti-Archive

Sunrise in My Mind

Through an expertly pitched blend of realistic fiction, Sunrise in My Mind shows a view of a beauty salon in Phnom Penh at night which sparkles like a jewel box. The patterned aquamarine wallpaper plays off of the many pink objects inside, including the shirt of the film’s protagonist Pich, a beautician whose mind is clearly elsewhere.

Danech San

New Cinema Awards

Suspiration! SDH Captions

In suspiration!, Taylor brings false promises made by the United Kingdom to the surface with pieces of news footage and a spoken testimony describing racism in the UK. Amongst this bleakness, moments of beauty shine through, indicating the possibility for reassurance and hope.

Camara Taylor

New Cinema Awards

Tender Point Ruin SDH Captions

Through Arabic poetry, collective history and what artist Sophia Al-Maria calls “an assemblage of exquisite cadaver moments”, Tender Point Ruin traverses the gifts, the vulnerabilities and the detritus of art-making.

Sophia Al-Maria

Rajee Samarasinghe

The Exile

Shot improvisationally in 2010, shortly after the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, this film takes a lyrical approach to examining recent history and the process of reconstruction in the post-war era. The visions of an exile are carried through an immoral silence, to an end both dubious and bittersweet.

Rajee Samarasinghe

The Eyes of Summer

In a small and remote hamlet, a young girl develops a curious friendship with a spirit who lives in an abandoned house. The Eyes of Summer was shot in Samarasinghe’s mother’s village in Southern Sri Lanka—shortly after the civil war in 2010.

Rajee Samarasinghe

The Queen of Material

A paean to Kenneth Anger, this film is depicts a short procession of colourful material and a mysterious woman lit by the sun.

Rajee Samarasinghe

The Spectre Watches Over Her

A reaction to the groundbreaking text by Swiss anthropologist Paul Wirz entitled “Exorcism and the Art of Healing in Ceylon,” this silent and hand processed film considers a history of colonialism and ethnographic practices in South Asia.

Essential Cinema

The Void Project

The Void Project looks at the effect of the absence of Palestinian visual archives on the construction of a Palestinian visual narrative. The project was founded by Palestinian documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, producer and writer Azza El-Hassan, whose documentary films mostly reflect her experience living in exile and her experience living in Palestine.

Anti-Archive

Turn Left, Turn Right

Turn Left, Turn Right is a narrative feature following Kanitha (played by artist/filmmaker Kanitha Tith), a free-spirited young woman in Phnom Penh who doesn’t conform to society’s (and her mother’s) expectations.

Rajee Samarasinghe

Untitled

A performance film consisting of a string of five slow motion portraits of a young woman—recalling the stillness of photographs. Each portrait varies in length and gesture as her myriad expressions invite our gaze.

Online Exhibitions

When Amongst Our Own

When Amongst Our Own is an online work and exhibition designed by Danielle Braithwaite Shirley produced and commissioned by Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, Circuit NZ, New Zealand and Spike Island, Bristol.

A CITY OF Shenece Oretha, Ebun Sodipo and Day Eve
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley

Online Event

30 September 2021, 19:00

New Cinema Awards

a body is a body is a body SDH Captions

Language folds and falls in on itself in this new video work by artist duo Cat and Éiméar McClay. Animated 3D tableaus of Catholic paraphernalia and strikes of elemental weather accompany the words. Together, they enact the historically fraught relationship between queerness and the Catholic church.

Éiméar McClay, Cat McClay

Rajee Samarasinghe

black widow summer set

Informed by principles of psychogeography and human ecology, this non-verbal film suggests a mournful narrative involving humans and the nocturnal and crepuscular landscapes they inhabit.

Rajee Samarasinghe

Rajee Samarasinghe

the past

Two people mourn an unsaid tragedy in this silent and improvised play in cinematic narrativity and melodrama, telling an elegiac tale in portraiture. In looking at narrative cinematic storytelling, this piece also examines the devices of power and control embedded into that form and tradition.

Berwick Young Filmmakers

​In10ded Ten: The Fate of The Middle Place

A collaborative film made by Berwick Young Filmmakers (a group of local 12–14 year olds). The film was produced over five days of workshops led by artist Kimberley O’Neill, which introduced the group to digital filmmaking and documentary techniques.

Christopher, Ebba, Lara and Violet