Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival continues to break boundaries with its eighth edition, in Hawick from 3 to 7 May 2018. For five days, the Scottish Borders town becomes the centre for some of the world’s most respected and acclaimed moving image artists, presenting the most groundbreaking experimental film and artists’ moving image from around the world.
Audiences have their pick of more than 130 film screenings, 36 world premieres, 12 film installations, expandedcinema performances, a filmmaker symposium and film walk.
This year, the festival celebrates the power of the imaginary to reshape our lives with a special tribute to the work of legendary Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer, an acclaimed pioneer of surrealist cinema who has influenced Terry Gilliam, Guillermo Del Toro and David Lynch. Alchemy honours his lifelong achievements with the UK premiere ofInsect, the film Švankmajer says will be his last, along with a programme of his early short films and panel discussions with the UK’s leading experts on his work.
Art is a necessity, a life-enhancing force that can enable us to transform repression and personal trauma intocreative action. This is powerfully brought to light to in the World premiere of Aftermath, a haunting four-partbiopic from Canadian auteur filmmaker Mike Hoolboom, through a kaleidoscopic exploration of the lives of four artists - Fats Waller, Jackson Pollock, Janieta Eyre and Frida Khalo.
The UK premiere of Turkish artist Didem Pekün’s searing and beautiful Araf, juxtaposes the figure of Icarus with the unimaginable violence of the Srebrenica genocide, a timely reminder of the potential consequences of current political instabilities. In the Scottish premiere of Sasha Litvintseva’s Salarium, we are invited into the sinkhole of history in a film of quietly devastating poignancy. The film connects economy, ecology and military force in thederivation of both ‘salary’ and ‘soldier’ from the word ‘salt’, manifested in the ecological reality of the sinkhole.
A key part of the festival has always been supporting Scottish filmmakers and celebrating the country’s rich cultural impact. This year Alchemy has commissioned two expanded cinema pieces featuring live music which will stretch the boundaries of what we consider to be Gaelic filmmaking. For “Experiments in Gaelic”, artist MacGillivray will present Gàradh Gàidhlig nam Marbh (The Gaelic Garden of the Dead), a cinematic alphabet oftrees featuring cinematography by Anonymous Bosch and a live score performed by MacGillivray, Stafford Glover (Extreme Noise Terror) and Hardeep Deerhe. In the same evening, a new collaboration between Borders based writer/filmmaker Dorothy Alexander and experimental musician Nicoletta Stephanz will explore the elemental and psychological constructs of Gaelic song and myth.
Fresh from it’s world premiere in Glasgow, Ela Orleans’s performance of her live score for Guy Maddin’s film Cowards Bend the Knee will close this year’s festival. This event will also feature the World premiere of Orleans’s kaleidoscopic short film Apparition, inspired by portrayals of biblical femme fatale Salome in music, film and art.
Alchemy’s diversity is further highlighted in guest programmes. Poetry film is presented by Berlin based ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, a touring programme of 16mm films from Ann Arbor Film Festival in the USA, a feminist film programme from Borders based Behind The Curtain, and a focus on female Chinese artists’ film from HOME in Manchester, with curators all in attendance.
In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, the exhibition programme includes Fr@gile, which explores communication in the digital age and the everyday barriers young people face. Created by Scottish Borders group Young Alchemy Moving Image Makers, the installation is the result of a series of workshops funded by Youthlink Cashback for Creativity. Another group, the Young Alchemy Programmers, have been mirroring the same selection processes used by the Alchemy team, learning to curate their own programme of short films through a series of critical workshops. These budding curators will present their final selection, Reality Makes You Sleep, Dreams Keep You Awake, as part of the main auditorium programme on Sunday 6 May.
Full details of the 2018 programme and booking information will be available from 3 April 2018 at www.alchemyfilmfestival.org.uk.
The 2018 festival is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. Alchemy was also recently awarded Regular Funding by Creative Scotland to deliver the next three editions of the festival. It is the first Regularly Funded organisation in the Scottish Borders.
Richard Ashrowan, Creative Director of Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, said:“The great diversity in our programme this year reflects the astonishing breadth of work being made today, muchof which might never be seen outside the context of festivals like ours. We’ll be hosting the work of one of the true masters of surrealist film, while presenting urgent and vital new voices exploring political activism, the dystopian invasion of virtuality, feminism and female artists, poetry-film, Chinese artists, and Gaelic language film and performance. This years festival aims to show us why creative action matters, and why it is so important for all of us to be part of it.
Alchemy has grown over its last eight years to be an annual focus for our national and international filmmaking community, while equally it has become a vital player in the cultural and economic regeneration of the Scottish borders. We deeply value the support of our local audiences in making Hawick such a welcoming and receptive place for such a vitally important artform.”
Mark Thomas, Screen Officer, Creative Scotland, said:“Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival have established a strong international reputation through bold and imaginative programming and we are very proud to continue our support. As ever, their programme presents an excellent opportunity to experience a showcase of exceptional domestic and international experimental film and artists’ moving image.”
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said:“EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival again this year, through our National Events Programme. Richard and the team have brought together yet another innovative and ambitious programme, providing the perfect stage for some of the best Scottish and International filmmakers and artists to showcase their work. It is also great to see that in Scotland’s Year of Young People, Alchemy will shine a spotlight on the festival’s local young participants, giving them the opportunity to showcase their creative skills and talents.”