“Important and much needed film” to open this year’s Berwick Film Festival

Tina Gharavi
Tina Gharavi

WITH exactly a month until the start of this year’s Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, the committee have revealed the film that will kick things off for 2011.

The piece in question? ‘I Am Nasrine’, described as ‘a love song to the north east’ and directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Tina Gharavi. Made in and around Newcastle by Tina’s production company Bridge + Tunnel, it is the latest feature film to come out of the region and is set to tour film festivals world-wide, starting with Berwick. It is an intimate coming-of-age story following Nasrine and her brother Ali, as they flee their home in Tehran and set out to make another in north east England.

Swept along by a dynamic soundtrack and a captivating performance by newcomer Micsha Sadeghi as the title character, ‘I Am Nasrine’ is a startlingly beautiful and profound telling of the modern day refugee experience. The supporting cast includes first-time actress Nichole Hall from the North East and Harry Potter’s Christian Coulson.

Both Tina and film festival director Melanie Iredale are excited that the film will be making its debut in Berwick. “Premiering at Berwick, though it might not seem obvious, is the zenith for ‘I Am Nasrine’,” said Tina. “This is a north east affair, through and through. It was made from the communities and stories found here. The smell of the earth and its landscapes pervades this picture. Though it is set in Iran and in the north east, the film is my journey finding a home here.”

Melanie Iredale agreed, adding: “’I Am Nasrine’ is the perfect opening film for Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival in many ways – it’s a regional production and yet international, it’s a story about borders, and about crossing them, and is the work of a storyteller and an artist.”

The film started shooting in Iran in 2009 under the working title of ‘Ali in Wonderland’ and has been a labour of love for all involved.

“At times unbearable, at times the greatest of triumphs,” Tina added. “It was made with the communities of the north east who have the least: the travellers, gypsies, gangsters, asylum seekers, refugees – those who are always at its margins.

“These are the people who have made the north east a special refuge for me – those who have been most accepting.”

Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley has championed the film personally, claiming ‘I Am Nasrine’ to be “an important and much needed film.”

You can’t get a much better seal of approval than that and the film festival committee are hoping the film will be a big hit with the audience come this time next month.

The film opens the festival’s Once Upon a Time programme, which explores storytelling on screen and films and moving image art inspired by folklore, fables and fairy tales.

Melanie added: “Like all of the narratives we grew up with, ‘I Am Nasrine’ is a coming-of-age tale, an adventure absent of parents. Nasrine could be any teenager on the verge of adulthood, anywhere. Her journey of self-discovery is paved with difficulties, but all of the best stories have dark chapters.”

Tina, producers James Baillie and Gerry Maguire, and the film’s cast and crew will be present to introduce the film on stage at The Maltings on Friday, September 23, at 7pm. The screening will be followed by another world premiere, that of a specially commissioned video projection by Gareth Hudson and Jack Burton entitled Penumbra at the nearby Dewar’s Lane Granary as part of a special reception.

Tickets for ‘I Am Nasrine’ can be bought from Tuesday, August 30, at www.berwickfilm-artsfest.com or from The Maltings Box Office on 01289 330999.