The Norient Film Festival is co-curating its upcoming 11th edition (12–16 January 2022, Bern + online) for the first time with a multidisciplinary team, working from India, Lebanon, Switzerland, and the U.K. NFF pushes forward its experimental nature and celebrates Norient’s 20th anniversary (2002–2022) with a big step forward. The program is broader than before, with strong regional focus on the U.K., the Arab World, India, and Switzerland, including live performances, installations, and audiovisual lectures. The vision of the new NFF and Norient is to work towards a festival of the future and to become a stronger, innovative, co-curated hub for upcoming artists and thinkers, film, new audiovisual formats, music, and sound.
The NFF Program After two years of social distancing and a very successful online edition in 2021, the NFF returns to the big screen, audience in tow. With a mixture of fiction and documentary films, Norient created a festival program that speaks the language of diversity, with films from South and North America, Africa, India, the Arab world, and Europe. The program emphasizes ideas of sensation, perception, and the senses; life and death, politics and romance, music and dance, silence and noise all make appearances. Audiovisual performances, live concerts, panel discussions, and DJ sets feature many renowned artists from the U.K. and beyond, such as multidisciplinary artist Mark Fell, electronic acts Rian Treanor and Giant Swan, drummer Julian Sartorius, and singer-songwriter-duo Ruth and Res Margot from Bern.
«In 2002, Norient was an attack on Orientalism and Exoticism. It was about opening up to contemporary music and expressions from the non-Western world. Now it is about creating a true, international community of thinkers and artists, to co-curate and co-produce new audio-visual formats to tell stories of our time» Thomas Burkhalter
The festival will open on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, with a psychedelic performance by London- based audiovisual duo Sculpture and the Oscar-awarded film «Sound of Metal» by Darius Marder, a fictional film about a heavy metal drummer who suddenly turns deaf. Further selected program highlights are a documentary about punks in Indonesia (A Punk Daydream), a film about the struggles of a female background singer in Bollywood (Shut Up Sona), and an archive-documentary on the Italian cantautore Lucio Dalla (For Lucio). Co-artistic director Chafic Tabbara will discuss present-day filmmaking in the Arab World with Lebanese sound designer Rana Eid (Beirut: Traces of a City – a Pod Poem), and Moroccan director Ali Essafi (Before the Dying of the Light) and Delhi-based co-curator Radha Mahendru will present histories of resistance from India through words and songs in an afternoon performative lecture.
Curated by an International Team The NFF 2022 sees video and sound artist Rebecca Salvadori (London, resp. for the music/live section) and film critic Chafic Tabbara (Beirut, resp. for the film section) as artistic directors working together with an international team of curators: associate professor in film and television history Dr. Monia Acciari (Leicester), photographer and filmmaker Claudia Popvici (Zurich), curator, arts manager, and cultural producer Radha Mahendru (New Delhi), and independent filmmaker Tamara Milosevic (Bern).
Something Personal in the Hands Tabbara and Salvadori decided to consider individual backgrounds and the varied approaches and interpretations around film, moving image, and sound encouraging the redefinition of individual viewpoints. «There is something personal in the hands» is the thematic backbone of this year’s festival edition and is to be understood as the desire of considering individuality. The idea developed into having each curator in charge of a part of the program, coalescing in a constellation of varied contributions representative of the different approaches and interests.
About the 11th NFF and 20 Years of Norient The NFF explores the contemporary world through music and sound and is often termed a leading festival for film and sound worldwide. Founded ten years ago by Thomas Burkhalter (director of Norient, ethnomusicologist, and AV-artist) and Michael Spahr (video artist, co-director of editions 1–4), the NFF intended from the beginning to present deep stories, research, and thought from across the globe through captivating, experimental, and at times challenging films, AV performances, concerts, DJ sets, video lectures, and other digital formats.
The festival often sold out, presented films in various cities in Europe, and reached 4,000 people all around the globe in its last digital-only edition. After the 10th edition, festival director Thomas Burkhalter decided to hand over the curatorial direction and decision-making to an international and multidisciplinary group of people, who from now on are the artistic directors and the new faces of the festival. For Norient, the organization behind the festival, this is a logical step:
Norient (https://norient.com) was founded in 2002 – a play on words meaning No Orientalism, and an allusion to Edward Said’s influential book Orientalism from 1978. Our concern was and is not only to program films, music, sounds, and audiovisual works from outside the Euro-American world, but also to make a perceptive selection and to share the power of curation with actors outside Europe. According to the composer and musicologist Georg E. Lewis, the internationalization of curatorial decisions makes an important contribution to the project of decolonization in general.
Norient has already gained experience regarding methodology and challenges with collective curation in several projects (in the podcast series «Timezones», the exhibition «DisOrient», the publication «Sonic Traces: From Italy» as well as in the planned virtual exhibition series «Norient City Sounds»).
Norient is an audiovisual gallery and a community (of practice) for the sound of the world: for contemporary music, quality journalism, cutting-edge research, projects, and events like the Norient Film Festival (NFF). Norient conceives music, sound, and noise as seismographs of our time, facilitating space and place for thinkers and artists from (currently) fifty countries to tell new and different stories of the now and tomorrow. The goal is to support (sub)cultural diversity, broaden horizons, and open up dialogue across people, continents, and disciplines. Norient started to increasingly give more editorial and curatorial power to artists and thinkers from various places. We strongly believe that stories of our time need to be told from different perspectives, by people from various backgrounds.
Full programme, tickets and information: https://nff-bern.ch/