Branchage Festival – Jersey’s unique celebration of film and culture

What is in a festival? If art is comprised of branches of the same tree, then the most apt description of the Branchage Festival is one of artistic connections.

But it is not only an artistic but a cultural scope that comprises this diverse UK film festival which is unfolding as we speak in Jersey off the mainland UK.

Unlike other festivals with a limited scope that are centred on film or music, Branchage unites the two with a collection of screenings of silent film classics accompanied by live music on its programme. If music is an essential element of the filmic or spectatorial experience then Branchage offers an opportunity for festival goers to explore the heritage of cinema in a traditional way. This is highlighted by a screening of the documentary A Night at the Cinema in 1914 with live piano accompaniment by James Lingard and Jersey post-rock duo Semu Cà (Stefan Riccio and Dominic Pallot).

Chris Watson’s Nature Disco only serves to emphasis still further Branchage’s appreciation of music, where set against the Jersey landscape Watson offers a composition of natural sounds. From sound to give voice to the filmic image to nature as a composition of sound, Branchage explores the diversity of both music and its musicians who channel the world of sound we live in through their creativity.

Set in the idyllic Jersey landscape, with walking tours that include the Bergerac (led by Sean Arnold a.k.a Bergerac’s Deputy Barney Crozier) and the Occupied Walking Tour, the Branchage Festival offers an intimate exploration of the island on foot – opening up the place that witnesses a true interaction between space and festival. It’s not one of the biggest uk film festivals, but it certainly one of the most refreshing.

But from the appreciation of the local, Branchage’s gaze is never far from the international. Its choice of films span the globe. Talks on Marxism and other subjects also infuse the festival with an international flavour. There is of course a focus on Jersey born filmmakers and films, whilst Branchage continues in its endeavour to be a champion of short films. But alongside all that, it always takes the opportunity to touch upon the status of the arts in Jersey in general.

With the usual parties and musical celebratory events, Branchage remains an exciting entry on the festival calendar – perhaps one of the best UK film festivals this year. It even offers an opportunity to re-discover and discover anew Peter Sellers for heavens sake!

For more information on the Branchage Festival and for the full programme click here.

words Paul Risker

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