If you can’t get to see those cinematic gems everyone is talking about, it’s truly wonderful when somebody brings them to your doorstep – and that’s exactly what the Bermuda International Film Festival does each and every year.
Since its inaugural edition, the festival has been committed to showcasing the very best in independent and international cinema from around the globe to a die-hard community of arthouse lovers in theatres on this small island off the eastern seaboard of the United States. The Bermuda International Film Festival’s (BIFF) program has grown from 22 films in two venues in 1997 to a seven-day extravaganza of all things esoteric, offbeat, and not a little excellent, with a carefully curated line-up of between 65 and 75 features and shorts which have been wowing audiences for the previous twelve months but have yet to – or more likely would never, were it not for BIFF – reach Bermuda’s shores. Some offerings, such as 2014’s screening of The Act of Killing, are yet to be released in major territories but are garnering praise and word-of-mouth followings in the build-up to release and are selected for BIFF screening.
The festival’s aim since inception has been to promote and provide a wider platform for indie film amongst the Bermuda cinephile community, while encouraging up-and-coming Bermudian filmmakers to push themselves and their work, and give them a voice. It achieves this and more through its packed festival screening program, which is supported throughout the year by hosting BIFF Film Academy events, school screenings, screenwriting and filmmaking workshops, and summer camps. Along with these supporting strands there is BIFFlix, launched in 2001, which shows some of the finest foreign films and documentaries to the island each month throughout the year.
Previous editions have seen screenings of acclaimed dramas such as Rust and Bone and Amour, while the fest attracts Hollywood luminaries to its events with Willem Defoe, Richard Dreyfuss and Michael Douglas all walking the red carpet in previous years. The festival’s huge draw, though, is the fact it is recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival for the Short Film Academy Award – one of only 62 fests out of thousands worldwide – meaning competition winners of BIFF’s Best Live Action Short Film award are automatically eligible for Oscar contention. 2013 saw over 500 submissions alone for this very reason.
The 2015 Bermuda International Film Festival runs from March 20th to 26th at the Liberty Theatre in the island’s capital city of Hamilton, with panel discussions at the National Gallery.