Spend the Weekend in the North East: Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2010

The 6th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival opens today! There are five action-packed days of film and video art from the UK and abroad, showcasing a number of UK premieres and specially-commissioned pieces.

A truly international, the festival celebrates the moving image will across the historic border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. This year’s event will explore the theme Stagings, focusing on the role of the screen as a stage and featuring, among other highlights; dance on film, music documentary, old classics and live performance. The gala opening at the Maltings Theatre today features a live performance, The Keystone Cut Ups, created specifically for the festival by artists People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz (aka Vicki Bennett and Dominic Robertson). It explores the relationship between early silent comedy and early avant-garde cinema through video collage and an original musical score.

The Festival includes UK premieres of Karaoke, a semiautobiographical drama which juxtaposes a young man’s idealism with the reality of a changing Malaysia through karaoke videos, and the darkly comic and visually stunning Estonian contemporary drama The Wish Tree.

And you won’t want to miss the English premiere of Freetime Machos, a touching comedy about the most northern – and third lousiest – rugby team in the world! In addition, there are premieres of the award-winning Italian documentary The Mouth of the Wolf and the entertainingly absurd comedy drama Whisky with Vodka, from the multi-award-winning German director Andreas Dresen, which closes the festival.

Also, festival-goers will get the chance to watch the world premiere of a film made by a group of young people who were challenged to create a short film in just one week, from script-writing to directing, acting to editing.

Young and old alike will by charmed by a selection of animated films to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Poland’s International Young Audience Film Festival, while Scotland is animated more beautifully than you’ve ever seen in the enchanting story The Illusionist.

Live performances include Wherever I Lay My Hat, which explores different ideas and attitudes to the meaning of ‘home’, and Caught in the Light, in which virtuoso performer Guy Sherwin presents a specially curated mix of live performances and short projected pieces. For a spot of nostalgia, you can catch the Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera and witness the live performance of Vintage Radio Plays, a 1940s-style radio broadcast combined with the crazy world of vintage celluloid.

Melanie Iredale, Festival Director said today: “This year’s programme is a playful one, and all themed around the idea of the screen as a stage, from ‘staged’ documentaries such as Mouth of the Wolf to the festival field in All Tomorrow’s Parties.

If you’re up in Berwick for the Festival, don’t miss the current exhibition on at the Gymnasium Art Gallery.

Tickets are available from www.berwickfilm-artsfest.com and from the Maltings Theatre & Arts Centre Box Office at Eastern Lane.