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Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is Changing!



21 July 2022

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is Changing!

The Royal Border Bridge as seen in ‘Enceindre’, a 2018 Festival commission and first collaboration between artist-filmmaker Luke Fowler and sound recordist Chris Watson. The commission is supported by LUMA Foundation, OUTSET Scotland and Berwick-upon-Tweed Town Council

After 18 years the annual Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (BFMAF) is moving from its regular autumn slot to a new date, 3 – 5th March 2023. The Festival’s date change reflects a positive approach in a time of continued uncertainty.

To mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown, BFMAF first moved online in 2020 and then in 2021 produced a hybrid festival of online events and in-person screenings, temporarily pausing its schedule of town-wide exhibitions. The Festival also emphasised a renewed commitment to the fair payment of artists and filmmakers in a time of economic hardship. The postponement of this year’s festival further extends this action to address sector-wide pressures to BFMAF staff and collaborators. Committing to slower, more sustainable futures, the change better prioritises team wellbeing in order to deliver the best for audiences, artists and filmmakers.

A two-year redesign for The Maltings, now under competitive tender, will soon see BFMAF’s home venue and public activity temporarily relocate whilst an estimated £14m building programme is underway. Following next year’s festival, this exciting transformation will provide a more contemporary, accessible and multi-screen facility for its audiences but is also cause to rethink how and where BFMAF operates in the meantime.

Film festivals have gone through a period of intense transformation with very little time to reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic, climate emergency and profound social changes have, will and frankly should permanently alter the ways we work. In focused efforts to create a more caring, equitable and sustainable future, shifting festival dates from the autumn to spring allows time to renew and rewild Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival. Peter Taylor, Festival Director

The new dates for Berwick Film & Media Art Festival are born of continued discussions within the Board and reflect new elements in the life of the Festival as it increases its commitment to its audiences, artists, staff and development in the region. The next edition is going to be an exciting new start which carries the extraordinary legacy of the Festival with it into the future. I want to take this opportunity to give recognition to the incredible work which has been done by both permanent and temporary staff of the festival over recent years, in a climate which is full of challenges, and to the work of the Board including all the input by Huw Davies, the previous chair and co-founder of the Festival.” The work that the team have done with artists and audiences; with researchers and community members; with key funders such as Arts Council England and British Film Institute; with strategic partners and through internal discussions and tough reflection, has led to this exciting new move to spring dates. Interim Chairperson, Laura Simpson

A spring date enables the Festival to create a distinctive early point in the local cultural timetable at a time when it is strengthening relationships across Northumberland, with partners including Northumberland County Council, Berwick Town Council and English Heritage, whilst also better aligning with the international festival calendar.

BFMAF has released an accompanying statement on the date change, delving further into its context, available here.