A new film and creative arts festival that aims to show there’s more to Newcastle than its famed party lifestyle, will have its inaugural outing during the city’s Freshers’ Week.

Binge Fest will be a celebration of not just the most exciting, innovative and thought-provoking world, UK and North East films and documentaries, but the region’s wider creativity.

Taking place between September 19-21, Binge Fest will showcase music, fashion and performers alongside the films, including the UK premiere of the ground-breaking documentary, Bucky: A Fuller Future, and the first showing outside London of harrowing World War Two period drama, The Last Witness, to which its director, BAFTA-nominated Piotr Szkopiak, is expected to attend.

All the performances will be ‘pay-as-you-feel,’ to attract as wide a range of festival-goers as possible.

Aimed primarily at 16-34-year-olds, Binge Fest is the brainchild of award-winning Newcastle-based educational film company, TryLife, in partnership with the International Film Awards, North East Futures UTC, The Fashion Lab, Orbis, Trendlistr, B&D Studios, Melanie Kyles, and Modyst.

It has been born out of the International Film Awards, which were conceived three years ago in Newcastle-Gateshead to promote and discover under-represented filmmakers. Over the last two years, however, the awards opened up to other creatives in the arts sector.

Now Binge Fest is taking on the mantle for what festival producer and TryLife’s co-founder, Nicky Kaur, calls “an explosion of creative energy in one place.”

“While Binge Fest has film at its heart, it is also bringing to Newcastle creative talent from around the globe and the region, giving artists a showcase for their diverse and unique work, whether that be film, music, dance, theatre or any other mind-blowing talent. In so doing, it is also bringing communities together.

“And in that community spirit, what better time to hold Binge Fest than during Freshers’ Week, when 20,000 new students flood into the city? It’s their chance to make new friends and get to know more about Newcastle.

“But we hope that amongst all the usual Freshers’ Week activities we can encourage young people to see there’s more to binge on in Newcastle than drink. We want them to binge on films and the arts too.

“We have an amazing cultural scene and we want to open students’ eyes to what’s out there and really get them involved.”

Film producer and distributor Aman Sharma, who is co-directing Binge Fest, says the idea behind ‘pay-as-you-feel’ is to open the festival up to as many people as possible.

“The main thing to emphasise is that everything is pay-as-you-feel. We don’t want to exclude anyone. It means people can pay what they want or what they can afford. They decide on the value.” 

The festival will open at North East Futures UTC in Stephenson Square on September 19 with a special screening of The Last Witness to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two.

This will be only the second showing of the film, which follows an ambitious journalist’s quest to discover the truth behind the Katyn Massacre of 22,000 Polish officers in spring 1940.

The evening will also include music from Sunderland singer Bex Lapping. Film director Piotr Szkopiak – whose grandfather was one of the officers executed at Katyn – will be guest of honour.

The second day of the festival will showcase not only 16 international shorts from 16 countries at UTC, but include a special Visible Mending Workshop between 11am-12pm delivered by Melanie Kyles at The Fashion Lab in Commercial Union House on Pilgrim Street.

The only set price event with tickets costing £10, up to 10 people can learn how to transform old clothes into a fashion statement.

The evening will see a pay-as-you-feel fashion show at the same venue homing in on reworked and pre-loved clothes from local sustainable designers and brands Melanie Kyles, TrendListr and B&D Studios, followed by a feature-length documentary on human rights and equality, My Body is Not a Weapon, about the survivors of conflict-driven rape.

The final day at UTC will provide the platform for the zombie horror-comedy and RTS Student Television Awards’ winner, Uncommon, by filmmaker Connor Langley, who studied MA Film and Television at Sunderland University.

There will then be an interactive film masterclass from TryLife co-founder and multi-award winner, Paul Irwin.

This will give local filmmakers the opportunity to learn about non-traditional filmmaking, how to grow their career, and even pitch their ideas to TryLife, which works on projects across the UK, USA and Europe, and is developing some of the biggest storylines in modern-day cinema with the likes of Facebook, the BBC, and the Prince’s Trust.

Binge Fest will close with the UK premiere at UTC of Bucky: A Fuller Future. It is a festival coup Nicky Kaur is particularly proud to have pulled off.

She says: “It’s a dream come true to be premiering this amazing film about one of the greatest American minds of the 20th century – Buckminster Fuller, who was described as the Leonardo DaVinci of his time – in the heart of the Stephenson Quarter where the pioneering Rocket, which revolutionised travel, was designed and built.

“Featuring the likes of Jeff Bridges, Al Gore, Jay Leno and Robert F Kennedy Jnr as themselves, I had been wanting to get the film shown in the UK for the past three years, and I’m overjoyed we’ve managed to secure it for Binge Fest. It’s a sign of our ambitions for the festival going forward.”

  • For further information about Binge Fest and to buy tickets to the Visible Mending Workshop, please visit the bingefest.com