Branchage Is A UK Film Festival Gem

Branchage Jersey International Film Festival is back 1st -4th October, screening an amazing selection of films in absolutely breathtaking and unusual locations. Highlights for 2009’s festival will include British Sea Power performing their poignant soundtrack to the renowned 1934 fisherman film Man of Aran; an Icelandic band performing to a classic silhouette fairytale from 1920s Germany and the latest Andrew Kotting film.

You might have come across Branchage in the last issue, Marketing Officer,Harriet Fleuriot,along with Shooting People’s Helen Jack, gave us the low down on getting your short films seen in DIY Filmmaking. Now, with Harriet’s experience, Branchage is tipped for success in 2009.

Branchage launched in 2008 as a vibrant cross-arts film festival that transformed a number of Jersey’s well recognised landmarks and changed them into unusual screening venues. No cinemas are used throughout the festival – making the event truly unique in the film festival landscape. Venues secured for the 2009 festival include: Mount Orgueil Castle, Jersey Museum Cinema, The Town Hall/Magistrates Courts, The island’s animal sanctuary, The War Tunnels, Victoria College Boys School Hall, Jersey Opera House. There’ll also be screenings inside one of the world’s few remaining Spiegeltents, plus an incredible drive-in screening at People’s Park.

This energetic festival creates a new cinema-going experiences by holding screenings at unusual, atmospheric locations – bringing people into environments they wouldn’t usually associate with film, and hand-picking the perfect films to screen in these weird locations. The festival is also giving a total of £10,000 in awards for filmmakers.

Festival Director Xanthe Hamilton says: “I’m delighted the festival is returning for a second year and extremely excited that we’ve secured more amazing, beautiful and unique locations to host the festival in this year.” “We aim to challenge people visiting the island – not only through the films we show, but also by showing films in utterly unique locations. This year, we’re bringing together an unmissable programme of films; showcasing local talent as well as bringing in the best the UK has to offer; mixing it up with music and arts; and throwing some very hip parties.” Xanthe added: “There’s no other festival quite like Branchage any where else in the world. Having the festival in Jersey – something of a gateway to Europe – gives it a very special flavour.”

This year Branchage is hosting summer events in London with the same ethos as the festival – mixing film and music nights in unusual locations to inspire all those who attend. Run annually in Jersey, Channel Islands, the festival has a cross-arts approach, with film at its heart, incorporating live music, soundtrack events, an art installation, visuals and performance. All of this supports a programme of UK and international features and shorts, with a particular focus on documentary. Jersey is a flourishing creative space and the perfect, intimate backdrop for filmmakers and movers and shakers to come together.

Festival programmer Philip Ilson says: “We’re delighted to secure British Sea Power for the first night of this year’s festival. Bringing music and film together in such an awe-inspiring location will result in an absolutely stunning evening. Both challenging and entertaining, something that will move festival-goers’ spirits. “This is a festival that will simultaneously offer something completely different to anything else, both in the UK and around the world -and reflect Jersey’s unique spirit and artistic heritage.”

Jersey is only a short hop, skip and jump from the mainland UK, so it’s definitely worth considering attending this year. Check out flights with Flybe from £7.50 (okay, not promoting cheap jet-setting, carbon emission behavior, but if film is your thing, then I’d get there anyway you can)

Many of last year’s screenings and events sold out over the three day festival including a special screening of The Wicker Man, which was accompanied with a live soundtrack and candles in the ruins of 13th Century building, Mount Orgueil Castle, that stands on cliff tops overlooking the Channel to France.

A extraordinary screening of Man on Wire kicked off last year’s festival at the Jersey Opera House with a sell-out crowd of 600 attending. Also taking place at the Jersey Opera House was a sold-out screening of an incredible Oscar-winning stop-motion animation Peter and the Wolf accompanied by a 17-piece live orchestra scoring. Other sell-out intimate venues in 2008 included a Branchage-commissioned archive film in the Jersey War Tunnels, and the closing night screening of Faintheart, at Mount Orgueil Castle. Aside from film screenings Branchage held two events in the Festival Spiegeltent which both sold out. The first event featured Warp bands and visuals, the second event was a burlesque themed night with Paloma Faith headlining.

Highlights for Branchage 2009 include:

British Sea Power performing live to Man of Aran
British Sea Power, the Brighton based four-piece band who’ve been compared to The Pixies and Joy Division, bring their epic, visceral and angular guitar sound to a specially written new soundtrack to the 1934 film Man Of Aran. This film is a powerful and provocative documentary from the late American filmmaker Robert J Flaherty, and is a series of startling black-and-white sequences presenting daily life amongst the fishermen on the inhospitable Aran islands on the west coast of Ireland. The film was both celebrated and controversial on its release.
“It’s a wonderful film,” explained British Sea Power guitarist Martin Noble. “The images vary between huge drama and a brilliant kind of ridiculousness – amazing foot-wide bobbled berets that the fishermen wear. It’s a film that’s also relevant to the current era – a time when the idea of living a simpler life is in the air. The film shows something I’d like to think I could do, but know I never will.”

This stunning meeting of contemporary music and historical image will be presented on the first night of the Branchage Festival on Thursday 1st October, taking place in the Festival Spiegeltent immediately following the Opening Night film at the nearby St Helier Opera House.

Animation & Live Music
An evening of animation and live music at the St Helier Opera House, a majestic setting to see classic works of cinema alongside contemporary sounds and live puppetry is set to be another highlight at Branchage in 2009.

Amiina perform live to Lotte Reineger
Aniima are four female performers who hail from Iceland where they work closely with the ethereal sounds of Sigur Ros, specifically as the Sigur Ros string section. Amiina on their own are renowned for the multi-instrumental live stage show, as they swap instruments from glockenspiel to celesta to musical saw and even water-filled glasses, creating their own beautiful soundscapes of contemporary classical to electronic loops.

At Branchage they will perform the premiere of an exclusive score to the classic silhouette fairytale animation of Lotte Reineger. Originally from Germany where she made puppet and animated version of the classic stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and the Frog Prince in the 1920s, Lotte fled Nazism to London where she continued working into the 1950s. The performance will be an astonishing magical mix of sound and image.

Paper Cinema
Inkblots, photocopies, cardboard, angle-poise lamps, the occasional table, video technology, a laptop and a banana box, are all put to use alongside a cast of hand-drawn marionettes magically brought to life live by the Paper Cinema. This highly original theatre company use projections of intricate illustrations in order to tell their mysterious stories and create a truly ‘live cinema’ experience. With residencies at the Edinburgh Fringe, London’s EAST Festival and the
Battersea Arts Centre, this is their debut Jersey performance.

3D Film Project
Three short 3D films are currently in production in Jersey to be premiered at Branchage. Artists Brian McClave and Gavin Peacock will be using their own uniquely constructed camera to make the films, which will combine 3D technology with the time-lapse film method. The short pieces will compress a day’s activity into several minutes and present stunning views of Jersey as never seen before, with sites including Gorey Castle, Corbiere Lighthouse and St Helier harbour. The films will be sound-tracked by local Jersey musicians and composers. Festival-goers will be provided with 3D glasses at a free space in St Helier town centre to view these extraordinary and original artworks.

Branchage venues confirmed around Jersey include:
• The Opera House
• Spiegeltent
• Victoria Boys College
• Durrell Animal Sanctuary
• Town Hall
• Magistrates Court
• War Tunnels
• A Barn
• Orgueil Castle
• The surf club on the beach
• Drive-in cinema
• Jersey Museum

For tickets and venue information visit

For the calendar of events visit