Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival changing to a spring date

The organisers of a popular event in Berwick have announced that it is moving from its autumn slot to early spring.

By Andrew Coulson
Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 2:43 pm

A local factor of the upcoming project to create new venue for Berwick on the current Maltings Eastern Lane site and pressures on the industry in general are behind the decision.

This means that the 18th edition of the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (BFMAF) will not take place in September this year – instead, it will be held between March 3 and March 5, 2023, and then each spring going forward.

BFMAF serves local audiences year-round as well as drawing visitors from as far away as Edinburgh, Newcastle, Glasgow and London, and international film and arts communities, to its annual flagship event.

The Royal Border Bridge as seen in Luke Fowler’s film Enceindre, a 2018 Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival commission.

A two-year redesign for The Maltings, now under competitive tender, will soon see the festival’s home venue and public activity temporarily relocate whilst an estimated £14million building programme gets underway.

This gave BFMAF the opportunity to reflect on how it can best provide its programme and festival, and other factors taken into consideration included the current cost of living crisis given its commitment to the fair payment of artists and filmmakers.

Interim chairperson Laura Simpson said: “The new dates for Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival are born of continued discussions within the board and reflect new elements in the life of the festival as it increases its commitment to its audiences, artists, staff and development in the region.

“I want to take this opportunity to give recognition to the incredible work which has been done by both permanent and temporary staff of the festival over recent years, in a climate which is full of challenges, and to the work of the board – including all the input by Huw Davies, the previous chair and co-founder of the festival.

“The work that the team have done with artists and audiences; with researchers and community members; with key funders such as Arts Council England and British Film Institute; with strategic partners and through internal discussions and tough reflection, has led to this exciting new move to spring dates.”

BFMAF has welcomed new personnel to oversee its 18th edition in 2023 including Elisa Kay, who joins the organisation as deputy director having previously held curatorial posts at Spike Island, Bristol, and Flat Time House, London.

In addition, artists and researchers Dan Guthrie and Ilinca Vanau will bring new perspectives to the fore as this edition’s programming fellows.

Meanwhile, Hamish Young steps into a new role as festival manager following his years of working on planning and delivery.

Festival director Peter Taylor said: “Film festivals have gone through a period of intense transformation, with very little time to reflect on how the Covid-19 pandemic, climate emergency and profound social changes have, will and, frankly, should permanently alter the ways we work.

“In focused efforts to create a more caring, equitable and sustainable future, shifting festival dates from the autumn to spring allows time to renew the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival.”

Professional accreditation for the 18th BFMAF is now open to artists, filmmakers, curators and industry workers. For details on this, go to https://bfmaf.org