17th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2021

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The 17th edition of the Festival has now finished. Thank you to everyone who joined us both in Berwick and online. We are so pleased and humbled by the support and enthusiasm for the programme and it has been wonderful to be able to connect with audiences this year.

Although the Festival is over there is plenty left to do. You can watch back all past online events, listen to filmmakers discuss their work on our podcasts series and read insightful essays that explore the programme in more depth.

Finally, complete our audience survey to be in with a chance of winning a BFMAF goodie bag.

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New Cinema Awards

The Berwick New Cinema Competition becomes the Berwick New Cinema Awards—a non competitive prize that is shared between the filmmakers. The strand encompasses a selection of work that has most spoken to our group of programmers this year and includes what we feel is some of the most distinctive works of new cinema and artists’ moving image being made around the world today.

Feature

Shared Resources

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?

Feature

Rock Bottom Riser

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. Through a combination of research, observation of the islands’ landscape and conversation with many different people who call it home, artist-filmmaker Fern Silva highlights the complexity and contradictions of a place which can be understood as beautiful and serene but also under constant existential threat.

Short Films

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.

Short Films

Maat means Land

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. Exploring the question, “what does it mean to come from somewhere?”, Maxy pays homage to the land and his surroundings, whilst challenging us to think about the painful and multi-layered histories that exist within territories scarred by settler colonialism.

Short Films

Alternative Economies

Alternative Economies was made in conversation with herbalist Rasheeq 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. Between these two strands, possibilities for an alternative network of exchange and subsistence are sought.

Feature

El Planeta

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.

Feature

Feast

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. Feast explores the uneasy complexities, motivations, assumptions and projections of those involved and those watching: the media, the diagnosing professionals, and us, the viewers.

Short Films

La Nave

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. Through clandestinely filmed performances with members of many different communities—indigenous, trans, queer, rural, Afro-Colombian and radical outsiders among them—Maria Romero recreates northern Colombia’s largest cultural event as an essayistic performance film, demonstrating how Carnival is a lifeblood to its many diverse participants.

This screening will be accompanied with an in person conversation with Carlos Maria Romero (La Nave) and will take place at The Maltings in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Short Films

Golden Jubilee

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.

Short Films

Passion of Remembrance

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. The result is a dynamic and multi-layered work that interrogates, re-frames and reclaims blackness in Swedish culture.

Short Films

Idrish (ইদ্রিস)

The Festival opens with the world premiere of Idrish (ইদ্রিস) by Adam Lewis Jacob (UK, Bangladesh, 2021). This special screening will be accompanied with an in person conversation with Adam Lewis Jacob, Muhammad Idrish and Claude Nouk.

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. In one striking sequence, footage of a protest march gives way to staccato editing and propulsive sound design by Claude Nouk, who re-uses and manipulates archival sounds to transform the film into a powerful rallying cry. Radically reanimating the documentary form, Lewis Jacob enlivens the archive to tell a vital history.

Short Films

Galb’Echaouf

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. It is fuelled by the statements and silences of the inhabitants of the region, but also by non-human knowledge present in plants and landscapes.