Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival


A new season and a new approach. After 18 years BFMAF is moving to a new date, 3 – 5th March 2023. Find out more here.

To better understand the reasons behind this date change please read our Festival Statement




Live Event — 24 September 2020, 20:00

Essential Cinema: The Lighthouse (Mayak)

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival presents a live conversation inspired by Maria Saakyan’s impassioned, acclaimed and groundbreaking debut feature film The Lighthouse (Mayak). Considering the legacy of Maria Saakyan and her life’s work, our guests will also discuss the practice and politics of film-making, -distribution -production and -restoration with special attention to the Southern Caucasus. The Lighthouse is screening as part of this year’s Essential Cinema strand.

For this special online event the Festival is joined by:

Filmmaker and producer Daniel Bird, leader of the Hamo Bek-Nazarov Project which focuses on film preservation and restoration in the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia.

Saakyan’s long-term collaborator Victoria Lupik, the Production Manager of The Lighthouse, who also co-founded the Russia/Armenia-based production company Anniko Films with Saakyan, producing a number of the latter’s films.

Film critic and curator Carmen Gray who has written for major publications such as The New York Times, Sight & Sound, The Guardian, Screen International, The Calvert Journal and Estonian culture weekly Sirp, focusing on the art, cinema and culture of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, and is also currently a programmer at Int. Kurzfilmtage, Switzerland.


Watch The Lighthouse (Mayak) by Maria Saakyan at the festival here.


Maria Saakyan (1980-2018) was born and grew up in Armenia. In 1992, she moved to Russia with her parents and graduated from Moscow’s VGIK film school in 2003. During her studies she shot several short animated and experimental films. From 2003 to 2006 Maria worked as a creative producer for the Andreevsky Flag Production Company, and in 2009 she founded Anniko Films with Victoria Lupik, where she developed her second feature I’m Going To Change My Name, an independent international co-production which was awarded Best Pitch from B2B, Belgrade and DAB at Golden Apricot International Film Festival, Yerevan. In 2010, Saakyan was selected for Berlinale Talent Campus. Her films have screen world-wide at IFFR, International Film Festival Telluride (USA); Premiers Planes (France), Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany), Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Sofia International Film Festival, among others. Her directorial debut The Lighthouse has been awarded Special mention at Premiera Film Festival (Moscow), Best Debut at ̈Golden Apricot (Armenia), Grand-Prix at Split International Film Festival and First Prize at Moscow Human Rights Festival.


Live Event Participants:

Daniel Bird was born in 1978 in Stoke-on-Trent. He read Psychology and Philosophy at Keele University before completing a Master’s in Philosophy at Warwick University. In 2002 he received a Polish Government Postgraduate Scholarship to study at Warsaw University, during which time he interviewed Andrzej Żuławski extensively, adapted subtitles into English, edited Żuławski’s screenplays, developed several of his projects and produced a number of restorations, including On the Silver Globe. He is also the co-founder of Friends of Walerian Borowczyk, a non-profit association based in Paris, and is the co-producer of Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection (2014). Since 2018 he has led the Hamo Bek-Nazarov Project, which is focused on film preservation and restoration in the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia. In 2019 he devised Temple of Cinema #1: Sayat Nova Outtakes, an installation featuring outtakes from Sergei Parajanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates. He also co-produced Parajanov: Triptych, a programme of restorations from Armenia, Ukraine and Georgia.

Victoria Lupik was born in 1983 in Moscow, Russia. In 2005 she graduated from VGIK (the All-Russian State University of Cinematography named after S. A. Gerasimov), from the faculty for producers. She has worked in film production since 2002. She has worked on Russian blockbusters such as Apocalypse Code (2007) by V. Shmelev, Terra Nova (2008) and Territory (2015) by A. Melnik. With Saakyan, in 2009 she founded Anniko Films, based in Armenia and Russia. The production company focuses on the development and co-production of independent feature, documentary and animation films with domestic and international appeal. The first feature produced by Anniko Films is I’m Going To Change My Name by Maria Saakyan, which was supported by Göteborg IFF Fund, Berlinale World Cinema Fund, The Danish Film Institute and Torino Film Lab (2009). It won Best Feature at Golden Apricot IFF, 2013 (Armenia) and both Best Film and Best Cinematographer at Hayak National Film Awards, 2013 (Armenia).

Carmen Gray is a freelance journalist, film critic, and programmer from New Zealand who now lives in Berlin. Publications she writes for include The New York Times, The Calvert Journal and Modern Times Review, often focusing on the art and culture of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. She is on the selection committee for the Winterthur International Short Film Festival in Switzerland.