Big-screen bonanza at Berwick Film Festival

TOMORROW sees the launch of the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, quite something for a town that doesn't even boast a cinema.

For the nine days between September 21 and 29, a range of world-class contemporary film and media art will be shown in diverse and unique venues across the town

In the "Cannes of the Borders", visitors can expect to see seven film premieres and unusual sights among the town's historic ramparts and buildings. Berwick is being transformed into a moving image installation, with a mixture of films and media arts projects on show at various locations.

There are more than 100 works being shown in 15 locations. The most dramatic are the old ice houses, the old prison cells and the Barracks Gymnasium.

More recent buildings include a disused car showroom and the faade of Berwick's old cinema as a projection screen and the more traditional setting of the Maltings Arts Centre.

"We wanted to utilise the historic bits of Berwick's architecture almost as a replacement for a conventional cinema," said co-artistic director of the festival Huw Davies.

The theme of the festival this year is Film on Film and the work on show will reflect the ways in which artists and filmmakers reference filmmaking in their work. There are more than 20 countries represented, including Japan, China and Russia.

Huw said: "We are screening world-class feature films, shorts and artworks transforming the historic town of Berwick upon Tweed into a moving image installation."

The opening night begins at 7.30pm with the UK premiere of the US indie film The Big Bad Swim with an appearance from director Ishai Setton. Tickets are available from The Maltings box office.

This is followed by The Changing Face, a dramatic large-scale projection to welcome guests and visitors, produced in collaboration with the young people of Berwick.

Programme highlights include archival screenings of rare films from the late '20s to early '70s from the Berwick Record Office, and The Big M, a futuristic inflatable cinema.

Full details on www.berwickfilm-artsfest.com or by calling 01289 303355.