Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival moves online for its 16th edition with a new streaming format that provides access to its 53 films for three weeks for just £7.50 — the price of a normal cinema ticket. Consistently one of the UK’s most interesting moving image festivals, Berwick’s lineup encompasses everything from newly commissioned artist film to a live sound event by acclaimed musician and sound recordist Chris Watson.
For the first time, the festival’s New Cinema Competition will include short, medium and feature length work. The strand is also non-competitive this year, with all selected filmmakers sharing a prize created by reallocating funds that would have ordinarily supported filmmakers’ travel and accommodation at the Festival. Made up of 17 works from almost as many countries, the selected films engage with global topics, utilising new and experimental techniques.
Consistently one of the UK’s most interesting moving image festivals, Berwick’s lineup encompasses everything from newly commissioned artist film to a live sound event by Chris Watson.
This year’s festival includes a 2020 Essential Cinema strand designed to provide a revisionist view of classic cinema. This includes three restorations showing in the UK for the first time: Márta Mészáros’s rarely-seen third feature 1970 Szép lányok, ne sírjatok (Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls!) looks at the Beat era in socialist Hungary; the late Armenian filmmaker Maria Saakyan’s 2006 debut feature The Lighthouse follows a young woman embracing an apocalyptic vision of freedom; and the recently rediscovered 1971 film Badnaam Basti (Alley of Ill Repute), Prem Kapoor’s bandit musical debut featuring Hindi cinema’s first portrayal of queer desire.
On a more recent note, UK artist Kat Anderson’s video works enquiring “into representations of mental illness and trauma as experienced by or projected upon Black bodies in media” and Hong Kong’s Tiffany Sia’s experimental exploration of the potential for anti-colonial filmmaking are both exhibited at a film festival for the first time. Also new for 2020, is the Previews strand, a programme highlighting forthcoming feature-length films from Tim Leyendekker and Fern Silva.