Review: Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival

Having never spent more than an hour in Berwick-upon-Tweed, and those few visits all related to coming or going somewhere else, I’m not sure what to expect from a five-day sojourn. What will a film & media festival be like in this small coastal town? I imagine tramping back and forth from my accommodation to a few different venues, seeing most of the things worth seeing after a couple of days. I certainly don’t imagine that I will leave having missed things I wanted to see, or with the feeling that there were even more places to discover than I had time for.

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Review: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

There is a moment when, sitting in the cavernous bubble of the SSE Hydro, the heads of the crowd below me lit by droplets of swirling colour, I experience a feeling that I, and everyone else in this gigantic space, are one single breathing organism. While the pulsating rhythm and bass hum of the Bad Seeds provide the backdrop, Nick Cave wraps his voice around us and pulls us into his universe. Yes it is dark, and takes us to landscapes of long black cars driving through desert nights, of blood and loss, and pistols shots cracking the sky. But there is celebration in this world too, and Cave’s mesmerizing delivery draws his audience in to share it.

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Review: The Unthanks – Music in the Imagination, EIBF 2017

As rain batters down on the roof of our tent, competing with the various noises particular to Edinburgh at this time of the year – fireworks from the Tattoo, the crashing drums and bass from the band playing in the Spiegeltent next door – our host for the evening quips “it’s like being in the womb of a mother at a Metallica concert”. But when Rachel Unthank stands to sing, she holds us all captive with her presence. It is just her voice, and the story that she is telling, that fills this space. 

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Review: Harry Giles and Katherena Vermette, EIBF 2017

“This is a nice way to meet the audience!” trills our host, Ryan Van Winkle, as he passes out little red books to a roomful of expectant listeners. Inside, excerpts of ten writers’ work. Five are Scottish, and five are from the Americas. The Outriders project, of which this book is just a small part, saw these writers paired together not only to share stories, but to travel together in different corners of the New World, which of course is the Old World too, though this is often forgotten. 

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Review: Tariq Ali – Revolutionary Road, EIBF 2017

An expectant queue snakes around the boardwalk that rings the wet Saturday morning grass of Charlotte Square Gardens. Edinburgh’s International Book Festival may have just begun, but the venue is sold out and there’s that unmistakable ripple of pre-event anticipation travelling up and down the line. We’re here to see Tariq Ali, who will be discussing his most recent book, The Dilemmas of Lenin, published in commemoration of the Russian Revolution’s centenary. 

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