Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival moves to spring date


A local factor in the upcoming plan to create a new venue for Berwick at the current Maltings Eastern Lane site and wider industry pressures are behind the decision.

This means that the 18th edition of the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (BFMAF) will not take place in September this year. Rather, it will be held between March 3 and 5, 2023, then each spring.

BFMAF serves local audiences all year round and attracts visitors from as far away as Edinburgh, Newcastle, Glasgow and London, as well as the international film and arts communities, to its annual flagship event.

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The Royal Border Bridge seen in Luke Fowler’s film Encaître, commissioned by the 2018 Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival.

A two-year revamp for The Maltings, which is now out for tender, will soon see the festival’s venue and public activity temporarily relocate while an estimated £14million building program of pounds sterling is in progress.

This gave the BFMAF the opportunity to consider how best to deliver its program and festival, and other factors taken into consideration included the current cost of living crisis given its commitment to fair compensation for artists and filmmakers.

Acting President Laura Simpson said: “The new dates for the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival have arisen from ongoing discussions within the Board and reflect new elements in the life of the festival as it grows its commitment to its audience, artists, staff and development in the region.

“I want to take this opportunity to salute the incredible work that has been done by the permanent and temporary staff of the festival over the past few years, in a climate full of challenges, and to the work of the board of directors – including all the contribution from Huw Davies, the festival’s former president and co-founder.

“The work that the team did with the artists and the public; with researchers and community members; with key funders such as Arts Council England and the British Film Institute; with strategic partners and through internal discussions and careful consideration, has led to this exciting new move to spring dates.

The BFMAF has welcomed new members of staff to oversee its 18th edition in 2023, including Elisa Kay, who joins the organization as Deputy Director after holding curatorial positions at Spike Island, Bristol, and Flat Time House, London .

Additionally, artists and scholars Dan Guthrie and Ilinca Vanau will bring new perspectives as fellows to this edition’s programming.

Meanwhile, Hamish Young steps into a new role as festival director after years of planning and delivering.

Festival director Peter Taylor said: “Film festivals have gone through a period of intense transformation, with very little time to reflect on how the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency and the profound changes have, are and, frankly, should permanently change the ways we work.

“In targeted efforts to create a more caring, equitable and sustainable future, moving the festival dates from fall to spring allows time for a renewed Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival.”

Professional accreditation for the 18th BFMAF is now open to artists, filmmakers, curators and industry workers. For more details on this, visit https://bfmaf.org

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