Melanie Iredale, Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival Interview
Melanie Iredale is the Director of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (see 2012 highlights below at the end of this interview), having been appointed about three years ago, and only eight weeks before delivering her first edition in 2009! The inaugural festival was back in 2005, and the upcoming festival set for his is our 8th edition coming up, September 19 – 23.
For the past three years she has been responsible for developing the event, both artistically and strategically, and it has grown to become the largest annual arts festival in the area and the flagship film festival for the North East & Scottish Borders.
In this In the Know interview Melanie shares her love of the Northumberland coast and a few best kept secrets as well.
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is an annual celebration of the art of film, set in the historic border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Each year we produce a film programme and a series of site-specific installations in locations across the town, and along the town walls, as well as commissioning new work, especially for Berwick. The Festival attracts thousands of visitors from across the region and beyond, as well as national press and international artists and filmmakers, whilst also engaging the local population through year-round activity and young people in hands-on workshops. Melanie says: “It’s amazing to see so many filmmakers, artists and audiences descend on our small border town each year – for almost all of them it’s the first time they’ve ever visited, and they always, always, love their stay!”
How long have you lived/worked/visited in Northumberland or The Scottish Borders?: I live in Newcastle, but have been commuting to Berwick most days for the past three years, and it’s such a beautiful train journey. I usually have my head down, working on my laptop and don’t take advantage of the views as much as I should, but nevertheless, I always sit on the coast-side of the train, both ways.
What is it about the county that appeals to you?: The sheer scale of it, the natural beauty, the leisurely pace of life, and the friendly people.
Tell us about your favourite view/walk/cycle route/town/nightspot?: There are so many favourites; the walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle and going round all the independent shops Corbridge is two of them.
The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland/the Borders wouldn’t be complete without . . .: Barter Books! My partner and I go to Barter Books in Alnwick quite often, sometimes as part of a bigger day trip, and sometimes just to go take some time out, wandering around what used to be an old railways station, and leafing through the books. He makes a beeline for the maps, and I go straight to the special edition children’s books behind glass. We can spend hours in there.
Why is locally produced Northumbrian/Borders food the best?: I’m a fan of eating locally produced goods wherever you live, but Northumberland’s food is especially good, and the beer too – there are some great breweries in Northumberland.
Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: Without naming one specifically, it would be tea rooms. No-one does tea and scones, toasties and cakes quite like Northumberland, and we have a favourite tea room for everywhere we go.
Northumbrians and people from The Scottish Borders are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?: I’m not sure what the secret ingredient is exactly, but whatever it is, we’ve got lots of it here in Northumberland and the Borders. Most of our guests come from across the UK and they always comment on how welcome they’ve been made to feel in Berwick.
Coast or country, and specifically which part?: Coast, definitely – the whole route down from Edinburgh to Newcastle is just amazing.
Your favourite market town and why?: Well I’m not exactly impartial, but I’d have to say Berwick! Mostly for the people, and for the Walls. Berwick has been passed back and forth between England and Scotland 13 times, and its history as a border town is fascinating.
Your favourite historical site?: Probably those we project on, and into, around Berwick: Bankhill Ice House, The Magazine, and Coxon’s Tower – you really get to know these spaces, their history, and let your imagination run wild with what you can do with them. On a ‘day off’ I’d probably say Bamburgh Castle – I have fond memories of visiting the Castle, and the Grace Darling museum, as a child, and last went back only a couple of months ago.
Berwick Film Festival 2012
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2012 is entitled Pictures in Motion – and runs Wednesday September 19 to Sunday September 23 2012.
This is the eight festival, and it will illuminate the whole town through premiere screenings, site-specific installations and specially-commissioned projects.
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is a truly international event, showcasing filmmakers and artists from both sides of the border, and welcoming artists and filmmakers from as far as India and the USA.
Each year the festival responds to a theme, and the 2012 programme explores the relationship between the moving and the still image. It will showcasing artists who work across film and photography, and featuring films and moving image art inspired by photography techniques. As always, the Festival will focus on where the boundaries blur, and on artists working at the fringes.
Using the historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed as a set, the programme features a selection of new films and contemporary moving image art installations, each projected in, or on to, a range of unique venues and heritage locations around the town. The Festival once again opens up rarely accessed parts of Berwick’s Elizabethan heritage with, for example, installations in ice houses, buried deep in the town’s walls, and in the old prison cells in the tower of the Town Hall. Our partnership with Berwick Watchtower marks a new location on the Festival map while The Maltings Theatre & Cinema remains the Festival Hub, and will be the base for the feature film programme and evening receptions.
Over an action-packed five days, the Festival will present one newly commissioned live event, two artist talks and two filmmaker Q&As, three short film programmes, four workshops, 12 feature films, 17 installations and one outdoor projection in five different locations around the town, in addition to the Festival’s ten venues. More than50 artists and filmmakers are involved in the programme, and representing 17 countries in total.
Tickets go on sale Friday, August 17 from www.berwickfilm-artsfest.com or from The Maltings Theatre & Cinema’s Box Office in Berwick upon Tweed on: +44 (0)1289 330999
Berwick upon Tweed Film Festival Highlights 2012
This year’s highlights include a 50th anniversary screening of Chris Marker’s La Jetée, a seminal photo-montage film taking audiences into the future as well as the UK premiere of artist Matt McCormick’s The Great Northwest, documenting his epic trip across Northwest America as he retraces the steps of the same journey taken by four women back in 1958. We are also proud to present newly commissioned works from artist Jason Dee and photographers Mishka Henner & David Oates, and a live road movie from Screen Bandita & The One Ensemble, who take us all over the world and back again.
Welcoming high profile guests to Berwick
We’re delighted to announce that Mark Cousins, the famous filmmaker, critic, and presenter – and the man behind the Channel 4’s The Story of Film – will be coming to Berwick! Mark will be flying directly from a film festival in Italy to introduce his latest documentary What is this Film Called Love? here in Berwick. Famous for interviewing the likes of Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, Mark himself will take questions from the audience about his new film.
The festival is also delighted to welcome our international artists to the UK – award-winning photographer Amit Madheshiya will be coming to Berwick to tour his travelling cinema, a series of projections around the town entitled Talkies Wallah which capture the joy of cinema on the faces of audience members of tent cinemas back in Mumbai, India. And from Portland Oregon we welcome Matt McCormick, known for his debut feature Some Days are Better than Others, but coming to Berwick for the UK Premiere of The Great Northwest.
Looking closer to home, the North-East based Sundance-award-winning cinematographer Lol Crawley will be attending the Festival to introduce Here, a film which he shot in Armenia, and which screens in the UK, outside of London, for the first time.
Other artists visiting Berwick this year with newly commissioned work and who will be taking part in Artist Talks on Saturday 22nd and September and Sunday 23rd September include renowned photographer Edmund Clark, who, together with Anna Stevens from Panos Pictures, will be here to install their new work, Section 4 Part 20: One Day on a Saturday in the Town Hall Council Chamber; Jason Dee, whose ambitious new commission 24 Times will be installed in the Gymnasium; Mishka Henner and David Oates, whose new commission, Photographers, will be installed in Shoregate Ice Town House and will premiere at The Maltings Theatre & Cinema as part of the Opening Gala on 19th September.
See it in Berwick first: Announcing our UK Premieres!
Following the sell-out World Premiere of I Am Nasrine last year, the Opening Gala will once again be a reason to celebrate, as the Festival kick-starts with the World Premiere of Mishka Henner and David Oates’ short comic film, Photographers, which will be shown before the main feature: a preview of Chasing Ice, an environmental documentary following a project which seeks to chart the melting of the Earth’s glaciers through time-lapse photography and which deserves to be seen on the big screen, before being released into cinemas at the end of the year. Following that, audiences will be invited to a reception at Berwick Watchtower, the newly opened gallery by the River Tweed, to see a series of projections from Amit Madheshiya’s Talkies Wallah. Closing the Festival is the UK Premiere of The Great Northwest, a title that was picked up by Festival Director Melanie Iredale when it premiered at Rotterdam Film Festival and which hasn’t since screened in the UK – until now.
Category: Northumberland Best Kept Secrets