NFM and Berwick Award International Commission to Artist-Filmmaker Ben Russell

Posted: 8th July 2014

Northern Film & Media and Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival are delighted to reveal that internationally renowned US-based media artist and curator Ben Russell has been selected as the winner of a £5,000 commission for a work to be premiered at the 10th Anniversary edition of the Festival in September 2014.

Having had solo exhibitions and screenings all over the world – from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and at film festivals ranging from Berlinale to Venice – Russell will come to North East England in September to present a new documentary work titled ‘The Twilight State’, as an immersive installation.

Responding to the Festival’s theme Border Crossing and set between Swaziland and South Africa, ‘The Twilight State’ will explore culture, nature, society and existence within this unusual landscape. With the borderless Kruger National Park bringing modernity abruptly to the doorstep of the natural world, and in a society still grappling with the after-effects of apartheid, ‘The Twilight State’ documents the lives of the territory’s inhabitants as borders dematerialise, evolve and dissolve.

On learning of his success Ben Russell said: “I am thrilled to have been awarded this generous commission by Northern Film & Media and am terribly excited to present ‘The Twilight State’ in the form of a new kinetic film installation at Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival this September. The framework provided by the ‘Border Crossing’ theme has led me to rethink cinema as a physical site where both material and immaterial borders can be traversed - be it via the prayer rituals of Christian animists in Swaziland, the dreams of non-traditional Xhosa sangoma healers, or the nation-less horizons of the natural world, ‘The Wild State’ will become a place that we all can occupy."

This new commission follows Northern Film & Media’s successful application for funding to Arts Council England, and comes as the result of an international call for proposals issued by NFM and Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival which attracted hundreds of entries from over 30 different countries around the world. Support for the project also comes from The MacDowell Colony, USA and the commissioning process was supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Northern Film & Media’s Managing Director John Tulip said “We are delighted to be working with Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival to enable the production of new works by such distinguished creative talent – and to ensure that it’s the people of the North East who have the first chance to see them, as part of this outstanding Festival.”

Director of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival Melanie Iredale added “We’re so pleased to be working with Northern Film & Media to bring such a high profile international artist to Berwick in September.”

During his visit to the UK for the premiere of 'The Twilight State' Russell will also be offering a series of one-to-one project development discussions for artists with a moving image practice. For more imformation click here. 

September also marks the release of Ben Russell’s debut feature ‘A Spell to Ward off the Darkness’ (Soda Pictures), which launches at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London on 12 September.

‘The Twilight State’ will premier at the 10th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival from 17 – 21 September 2014. Early-bird Festival passes, granting access to the full five day programme, are now on sale for just £25. Click here for more info.


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