Translation, transformation and transition: the final 2018 Berwick New Cinema competition programme focuses on shifting perspectives, the tension between the real and the virtual, and the relationship between mental and physical landscapes.

Q&A with filmmakers Tako Taal & Callum Hill.

Works featured

Short film 23rd Sep · 14:00 (14 mins)

Crowtrap

Callum Hill

Crowtrap is a documentary fiction work by Callum Hill. Weaving together the lives of two men, this short film draws upon their individual dealings with fire to expand across themes such as pyromania, anarchy, radicalism and enlightenment.

Since 1989, seventy-nine pieces of the original Berlin wall have formed the contained space of a coal yard in Prenzlauer Berg, East Berlin. Born in the GDR, the man who created and runs this charged site has a particularly haunted relationship to the fragments of history; the enclosure protects the pieces of coal like a dormant volcano. Through a fictionalised portrayal, Hill parallels this man’s story with that of a heather burner in North Yorkshire, who witnessed the Piper Alpha Disaster of 1988. Whilst the film focuses on the psychology of these two men, it simultaneously gestures to the UK’s political climate and its imminent withdrawal from the EU. The film’s erratic movement is guided by the artist herself, whose presence as both a narrator and character is key to the film’s folding and unfolding across times and spaces both real and imagined.

Short film 23rd Sep · 14:00 (22 mins)

Luminous Shadow

Mariana Caló & Francisco Queimadela

Luminous Shadow takes as its subject the rich collection of the International Arts Centre José de Guimarães (CIAJG) in Guimarães, Portugal, as well as the theory and practice of museology itself. An institution focusing on the relationships between contemporary art and art from other eras, the CIAJG’s extensive holdings of African, Pre-Columbian and Chinese art and artefacts—as well as its research and peripheral materials—are shown in a slow, deliberate pace. Guided by a wholly intuitive editing structure that recalls the duo’s previous film The Mesh + The Circle (2014), Luminous Shadow floats across disparate materials, cultural contexts and eras, creating a montage of objects that is provocative, unexpected and ultimately stimulating.

Watching the film just weeks after the tragic fire that decimated the National Museum of Brazil’s building and collection—or in the midst of a years-long campaign of unthinkable cultural destruction by Daesh in Iraq, Syria and Libya—we can feel the urgency and fragility of artefacts much more acutely. Artefacts don’t just represent their historical past, they also stand for what they reveal to us in our current moment and the latent, mutable potential of what they might teach us in years to come. Caló & Queimadela’s Luminous Shadow expresses this latent potential in a manner much more effective than words could convey. —Herb Shellenberger

Short film 23rd Sep · 14:00 (15 mins)

Ada Kaleh

Helena Wittman

Inquiring into the conditions necessary for harmonious social relationships, Ada Kaleh takes its name from a little-known island on the Danube River. Mythologised by Hungarian author Mór Jókai in 1872, it was submerged one century later during the construction of the Romanian-Yugoslavian Iron Gates hydroelectric power station.

The film performs a movement from the personal to the political—and from the domestic to the geopolitical—through a meticulous attunement to the cohabiting rhythms of the residents of a shared house, tracing their negotiation of space, privacy and sociality in a precarious ecosystem of sharing, intimacy and communion. Using continuous shots and richly-detailed close-ups, the material and affective surroundings of a simple sharing arrangement are rendered with gentle care and generous attention. An act of patient witnessing converts into a thinking and feeling-through of new ways of being together. In a present of polarised and fragmented social relations, it defiantly claims the ability to imagine new social and political communities. —Letitia Calin

Short film 23rd Sep · 14:00 (6 mins)

You Know it but it Don't Know You

Tako Taal

You Know it but it Don’t Know You combines images of students from the Gambia Hospitality and Tourism Institute with a commentary of Mandinka words and their English translations taken from a list Nain (the filmmaker’s grandmother) wrote in 1986. Filmed shortly after the 2016 Gambian presidential election, the work reflects particular moments in time, the student’s gestures and Nain’s list embodying a search for knowledge and understanding through exercises of curiosity and welcome. —Tako Taal