The format changed this year, and somewhat ambitiously, Undercurrents who host the event, expanded from a weekend event to a week long festival.
Each night was a different theme, leading up to the weekend.
Last year the festival was hosted at the Dylan Thomas Centre, and with the exception of Friday night, this year was again held was held at the Dylan Thomas Centre, overlooking the marina.
Last year, an awards ceremony was held, this did not go down very well, and luckily, the mistake was not repeated this year.
Friday night was party night, held at the Monkey Café, a café cum nightclub, Swansea's alternative music scene.
The party was preceded by an hour and a half or so of short films. All were excellent.
First to kick of the party was a female on accordion singing funny songs, at least I think they were supposed to be funny.
She was a mistake, or at least it was mistake that she went on for far too long. Many people walked out, and sadly, many did not return.
She was best suited for an alternative comedy club, or for a 20 minute break to let people chill out, 30 minutes at most.
Then, what most of the people were waiting for, and what several girls told me were the top hip hop group in Wales, and yes, they were good, and deserved their reputation.
These were then followed by a DJ who was also good.
The party went on until 4am Friday morning, leaving most of us very tired for Saturday.
I somehow managed to get up for breakfast, went for a short walk, then back to bed until early afternoon.
I walked to the Dylan Thomas Centre along the seafront, got there late afternoon, and as consequence, missed the first session.
What I saw in the last two sessions were all very good. It is probably unfair to pick out any films, as all were excellent, but I will mention a few that stuck in my mind.
A very clever production promoting Fascism, why you should vote for the Fascist Party. This was also shown Friday night.
Another clever film shown Friday night took outages of George W Bush and set the words to music. Very funny.
A film covering the World Naked Bike Ride was shown in the first session on Saturday.
A short clip on problems faced by immigrants and asylum seekers in Birmingham by the G54 Collective based in Birmingham. Then a similar short film looking at similar problems in Croatia by Croatian director Oliver Sertic.
Loose Change, was a critical look at 9/11. What really happened that day. Although not telling me anything I did not already know, it was an eye-opener to many people.
Loose Change holds the record as the most accessed film on the Internet.
An Undercurrents film looked at the problems of the recently introduced Civil Partnerships. This film though begged more questions than it answered. Was this merely an argument about semantics?
Two females who were legally married in Canada, found that in the UK they were not legally recognised as 'married', and it was in their eyes, downgraded to a Civil Partnership.
They decided to challenge this in the High Court under breaches of the Human Rights Act.
In my view they were either incredibly naive, or were ill-advised, maybe both. They lost, and were landed with a legal bill of £25,000, which they have to foot out of their own pocket.
This was a test case, and should have been taken by a lesbian/gay organisation as a test case, not two individuals. Apart from Liberty and a few named individuals, no-one gave them any help.
The many gay/lesbian organisations should hang their collective heads in shame, for being all talk, and not being there to help when help is needed.
Odd Man Out was another film that begged more questions than it answered. Did a Welsh man pioneer a herbal treatment for breast cancer? We may be led to believe a handful of people were 'cured' from anecdotal evidence, but how many were not cured, how many died, how does the treatment compare with conventional treatment? We do not know, we may never know, as proper clinical trials have yet to be carried out. Even discussion of these issues is difficult due to cancer legislation prohibiting the promotion of quack cures and the corrosive influence of vested interests such as Big Pharma and the big cancer charities.
The star of the show was a film about the slums in Rio, Favela Rising.
The popular view of Rio, is the beaches, the music, the surf, the sexy girls on the beach. But high up in the hills are the slums, the favelas, the unwanted people.
The film focused on one favela. The people live a precarious existence, grinding poverty, violent deaths, drug dealing.
Drug dealers control their own patches.
Kids look up to the drug lords.
Until one day, four cops were killed. In revenge, the hated and despised military cops massacred 21 innocent people.
The slum dwellers could have responded with violence, instead, one drug dealer Anderson SA, responded with music. AfroReggae was born. Kids were encouraged to explore music, their culture, to get an education, not deal drugs.
A very chilling film. Not a film for the faint-hearted as graphic scenes of dead and mutilated bodies.
The format of the films sessions, was several shorts, followed by a feature-length film. This format worked very well.
During one of the sessions, the critically acclaimed folk-rock group Seize the Day entertained us with a couple of their songs.
A whip round by The Only Clown in the Village raised enough money for Theo from Seize the Day to go to the Faslane Blockade on the day the UK government publishes its White Paper on the Future of Trident.
Two films not shown
- The Regeneration Game
- Bolivia is Not For Sale!
were available on DVD.
This was the best BeyondTV yet, and compliments to Undercurrents for all the hard work that made it possible and such a success.
A minor criticism. Excellent films are shown, but these need to reach a much wider audience. Copies should be available for people to take away, to pass to their friends, run off copies, arrange showings.
Mention was made of a peer-2-peer TV network, running on the net, currently experimental, but expected to go live soon. Undercurrents have more details.
Alternative culture films are starting to have an impact. Would McVomit even be claiming to serve healthy food were it not for Super Size Me? Big Business is worried.
We cannot trust politicians, if we want change we have to force change ourselves. But as the film on Indymedia Argentina shown Friday night showed, participation is no longer enough, we have to record that participation, as the mainstream media will not, or when they do, they cannot be trusted to tell the truth.
During the week of the film festival, yet another alternative media channel was inaugurated. The Truth in Rushmoor exposes the truth behind the headlines in the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, stories the local media are too scared to cover.
Associated with the film festival was a number of stalls, including a gas pipeline running through Wales, Seize the Day with their CDs, high quality Palestinian Olive oil.
Usually held on the Sunday is a Green Fayre, but this year they got out of sync, and the Green Fayre was held the Sunday before the film festival.
Saturday night a storm blew up, the gusts of wind peaked at 99 miles per hour!
Sunday I walked along the beach, but almost got blown away in the gale that was blowing, and sand blasted by the sand storm.
In the afternoon, I visited the excellent Waterfront Museum overlooking the marina.
Seize the Day performed a couple of their songs. They also showed a film of them protesting outside the Faslane Naval Base, home to the British Trident submarines.
AfroReggae are a music group, a social movement, born out of the violence in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The music is a cross-over of reggae, Latin and hip hop. Founder member Anderson Sa, life in the favela, the work of AfroReggae, were featured in the film Favela Rising. It is an extremely grim film, featuring extreme violence. Out of adversity grew hope. A very moving film.