Preview: Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival

Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is an artisitically ambitious festival of film and artists’ moving image, held annually in the border town of Berwick. Ahead of this year’s 19th edition, taking place 7-10 March, SCAN picks a selection of highlights from the programme which “grapples with the potency and ambivalence of hope – across complex emotional, social, and political entanglements.”

Opening film: Phantom Beirut
Thursday 7 March, 7pm

This year’s opening film is a special presentation of the 1998 debut feature by Lebanese filmmaker Ghassan Salhab. Set in the late 1980s, the film follows a man returning to Beirut under a new identity towards the end of Lebanon’s Civil War, and utilises documentary elements to explore of the official silences and collective amnesias in the lives of people living through conflict.

Friday 8 March, 5pm

Consisting of five short films combined to form a single work, yours, sees six artist-filmmakers respond to Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman’s seminal News From Home. All five responses engage imaginatively with Akerman’s epistolary approach, and are rich with themes of alienation, distance and the mother-daughter relationship.

“For God’s sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country” Reginald Maudling, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 1970-72
Saturday 9 March, 11am

Curated by Maria Fusco, this event explores legacies of censorship and voice during The Troubles, referencing the BBC’s broadcasting ban of Northern Irish (largely Nationalist) politicians. The BBC TV plays Elephant and Easter 2016 will be screened alongside an artwork by Alex Monteith, followed by a discussion.

Saturday 9 March, 4:30pm

Part of the festival’s Filmmaker in Focus: Basma al-Sharif programme, the filmmaker’s first feature is an experimental homage to the Gaza Strip and to the possibility of hope against hopelessness, following a man moving through landscapes in search of a past lover.

Closing film: All That You Could Be (Tudo o que Você Podia Ser)
Sunday 10 March, 7:30pm

Ricardo Alves Jr.’s radiant work of trans friendship features queer and trans actors play versions of themselves in an affectionate portrait of chosen family, set in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.