The Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival is returning to the Borders town of Hawick for its seventh year.  Usually a place steeped in the traditions of knitwear manufacture and the festivities of the annual Common Riding, Hawick displays a more avant-garde and forward-thinking face with 120 experimental films from eighty visiting filmmakers being shown during the festival, which runs from 2nd to 6th of March.

Of these, eight are feature films. Seven are being shown at the Heart of Hawick, the festival hub, and one as the culmination of an eight-mile Film Walk to Hermitage Castle with filmmaker Andrew Kötting.  His Edith Walks is one of several films being given either a Scottish or European Premiere.  There are also several collections of short films from a diverse selection of artists, grouped by theme.  The content is sure to be vary wildly in tone and style, and strand names such as ‘Reasons to be Anxious, Part 3‘ offer plenty of scope for creativity, as well as being a neat play on an old Ian Dury classic.  Other strands include ‘It’s My (Private) Life‘, ‘Video Strolls‘, and ‘Self Registration‘.

It is also possible to see many of these films as part of the Screening Room.  These are a timed series of short and middle-length works, and each series will be screened once per day.  Audience discussion afterwards is always welcome, as are questions for the filmmakers if they are present.

Pushing the boundaries of what is possible with cinema further are three films screening under the banner of ‘Expanded Cinema‘.  Bringing external elements to the cinema, these films play with various grades of film, photography, lighting and music; each promises to be its own unique sensory experience.

In addition to the films there will also be thirteen moving art installations set up Fringe-style in empty venues dotted around the town, the very locations a comment on the economic environment in which they’re being exhibited.  An opening tour of these works is taking place on Thursday, the opening evening of the festival, followed by a drinks reception.  The artists responsible will be on hand to introduce each work of art.

This year’s festival is the most ambitious yet, having grown every year since its inauguration.  Visitors are expected from far and wide, and should interest anyone with an interest in art, as well as those with a taste for the avant-garde.  Alchemy Festival is also an opportunity to have a conversation with the artists themselves, as practically every filmmaker will be present.

Tickets for all events can be found on the Alchemy Festival website here.