Against the Tide
Supporting Margate Film Festival through our Shifting Ground programme

Margate Film Festival explores the town's changing reputation through a series of archive film events.

The fluctuating fates of Margate over the past 100 years and the town's contested situation in a moment of cultural and political turbulence are the key issues to be raised at this year's Margate Film Festival, a 5-day festival of film and moving image on the Kent coast taking place from 23-27 October. A programme encompassing stories of migration, seaside holidays and the impacts of man on nature promises to explore both the environmental and social implications of the festival's 2019 theme: Against the Tide.

Key to the festival's interrogation of Margate's past and its connection to the wider political present is a new Heritage Strand made possible with support from Shifting Ground - a funding programme offering up to £15,000 for archive film projects exploring our changing relationship with the environment. Events in the Heritage Strand will illustrate Margate's changing reputation over the past century: from its many years as a booming seaside resort through to periods of economic decline and population change in the 70s and 80s. In juxtaposition to stories of Margate's former glories, the festival will also consider the town's most recent trajectory: one of uncertain promise, political contrasts and the possibility of a resurgent cultural scene evidenced by the arrival of artists, creative spaces and - during the festival itself - the Turner Prize 2019.

Festival screenings will showcase footage from Screen Archive South East and the BFI National Archive at a variety of innovative events, bringing the heritage of Margate alive for festivalgoers in unexpected, exciting ways. The Margate Time Warp is a new pop-up film archive running throughout the festival at Dreamland - a vintage amusement park whose history of past popularity, subsequent financial troubles, and recent regeneration serves as a pointed microcosm for the fortunes of the town as a whole. On Saturday, 26 October, a disused Woolworths store on Margate High Street - now home to The Margate School, a not-for-profit arts education organisation - hosts Cinesthesia: a night of expanded cinema combining locally shot footage both old and new, musical performance and live art projection.

Elsewhere in the Heritage Strand, contemporary features and shorts will speak to the issues raised by the festival's archive interventions and connect stories of Margate's past to the current moment. Exodus - a near-future dystopia featuring its own warped version of Dreamland - will screen alongside a Q&A session with director Penny Woolcock unpacking its stark story of political division and extremism. And a programme of short films curated under the banner The Sea Belongs To Us will explore Margate's complex relationship with its defining natural feature - considering the sea as a source of sustenance and solace, a holiday destination and a boundary between lands, an environmental treasure and a commercial asset.

Margate Film Festival's Heritage Strand will span decades, modes and formats to bring the past and present into conversation in provocative ways. Their Against the Tide programme speaks to the pressing environmental issues at the heart of Shifting Ground and the particular questions facing the inhabitants of a town, a community and a culture in flux: how does the area shape you, and how do you shape the area?

See the full festival line-up

Margate Film Festival present their Heritage Strand with support from the Shifting Ground Engagement Fund. For more information on how we can support your next archive film project, visit the Shifting Ground homepage.