Film fans were more than happy to set their compasses to ‘North by Northeast’, helping to make the ninth Berwick Film Festival a massive success.
The theme, designed to celebrate the region’s strong links and similarities with Scandinavia, really caught the imagination. On screen and around the town at the festival’s many inventive installations, there was a buzz in the air.
More than 7,500 people flocked to the five-day event, including a packed house at The Maltings for the opening gala which set the ball rolling in fine fashion.
The evening boasted two world premieres, the first with about as strong a local connection as you could get.
‘The Case’ was the cinematic baby of Berwick’s artist in residence, Cecilia Stenbom, who started work in January on producing something to debut at the festival.
The result was a nine-minute snapshot of people’s view of crime in Berwick.
The screen was filled with both familiar scenery and familiar faces. The local peoplewho had speaking parts included Berwick’s Jackie Kaines and Eyemouth’s George Kay.
‘The Case’ set the tone for the rest of the evening with the audience then immersed in the twists and turns of the second gala premiere ‘The Hidden Child’, a film adaptation of Camilla Läckberg’s famous novel. There was a real buzz in the air as the first night audience made their way out of The Maltings and this continued right through the event.
The films selected for this year’s festival, although diverse in both content and genre, were all a perfect fit for the ‘North by Northeast’ theme.
At a time when audience reactions are available almost instantly on social media sites, the film festival committee must have been thrilled with the response the event received on Twitter. Tweets came in thick and fast praising this year’s programme with praise for big screen highlights such as Denmark family drama ‘Festen’; Icelandic fishing drama ‘The Deep’; and for installations such as Sidsel Christensen’s ‘Study for Composition X’; Matt Hulse’s ‘Better To Wear Out Shoes Than Sheets’; and Kelly Richardson’s ‘The Last Frontier’.
Both of those were world premieres as was another festival highlight, ‘Drifters’.
The 1929 John Grierson silent documentary, described by guest presenter, BBC film critic Danny Leigh as “a pioneering piece of documentary film,” may have been familiar to some of those in the audience, but prior to Friday night it had never been blessed with a soundtrack.
But that’s exactly what it received courtesy of Mercury Music prize nominees Field Music, who performed live on The Maltings stage.
The way in which they tailored their instruments to the crashing of a wave or the turning of a cog was absolutely fantastic and it was no surprise that there are already plans in place to take their commission elsewhere.
The Film & Media Arts Festival once again proved itself to be an event that Berwick should be proud to call its own, and director Melanie Iredale has been “overwhelmed” by the feedback she and her team had received so far.
She commented: “The theme seems to have captured everyone’s imagination, and we’re so pleased to have been able to bring so many artists and filmmakers to Berwick.”