Right of Way (2022)
Thursday 17 November 2022 at 3:00pm
Dir. Various | UK | 1hr 30m | 12A | Archive footage & New Artist Film | Captioned for the hard of hearing
We’re told we all have a right to roam in the countryside – but does that apply to everyone equally?
Right of Way is a new feature-length programme that mixes stunning new artists’ commissions with historical archive films to explore the wider landscape of questions around access and inclusion in the UK countryside.
The programme is inspired by the foundation of the National Trails. Set up to resist sweeping industrialisation, these protected landscapes were created with a vision to ‘connect people to the rural landscape’, but during the COVID-19 pandemic – as people realised anew the importance of nature and open spaces for our health and mental wellbeing – inequalities of access to rural land were being exposed, revealing the disconnect felt by millions of people towards the UK countryside. A 2019 government review found that many Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people view the countryside as an ‘irrelevant white, middle-class club’, concluding that this divide is only going to widen as society changes and ‘the countryside will end up being irrelevant to the country that actually exists’.
The new commissions interrupt and challenge the enduring perception of the rural idyll as an untouched and unchanging space where time stands still. What happens when Black, Asian and other ethnically diverse people enter these landscapes? How can our natural spaces be homes to protest, trespass, activism and raves? Paired with archive films this programme is a terrific platform for debate on historical and contemporary discussions about who has a right to the great outdoors and who is excluded from it.
Details of the full programme are below.
Dan Guthrie | UK | 2022
After seeing him mentioned on a Bishop’s Transcript held in Gloucestershire Archives, Dan goes for a walk in the woods in search of Daniel, a man buried in Nympsfield on the 31st December 1719 and described on the document as ‘a black stranger’. Whilst walking, Dan talks directly to Daniel, speculating about the parallels between him and his namesake and wrestling aloud with the problems that come with trying to read the archive at face value and fill in its gaps.
Ufuoma Essi | UK | 2022
Pastoral Malaise is a meditative reflection on the absences found in rural pastoral environments, that are often framed by a false romanticism and picturesque conventions, constructed as tourist sites within rural landscapes across Britain. Inspired by Una Marson’s poem Spring In England and Dorris Henderson’s 1965 cover of the popular British folk song One Morning In May, the film recalls an imagined relationship to the English landscape told through memories and speculative histories.
Arjuna Neuman | UK | 2022
Syncopated Green reflects on the history of outdoor free parties in the English countryside, using rave music, past and present, to help forget the ‘official’ portrayal of England as picturesque, nostalgic, white, and rural. The film invites rave music into the English landscape – turning imperial history inside out. Somewhere between a music video, a memoir and an essay, it asks: how might our future be different if we had other histories to lean on – and dance with?
Gilbert Tomes | UK | 1958
Holidaying in Eastbourne, the Sanderstead Youth Fellowship take in an organised walk over the South Downs from Beachy Head to Cuckmere Haven. Courtesy of Screen Archive South East at the University of Brighton
William N. Boyle | UK | 1956
From Farnham to Canterbury, this 120-mile trek across the famous Pilgrim’s Way section of the North Downs Way takes in some of south-east England’s prettiest towns, villages and pastures. Courtesy of BFI National Film & Television Archive
unknown | UK | 1935
Recorded over 60 years prior to the establishment of the Thames Path National Trail, this film follows England’s best-known river for 185 miles as it ambles from its source in the Cotswolds through several rural counties and into the heart of London. Courtesy of BFI National Film & Television Archive
Holiday on the North Norfolk Coast
unknown | UK | 1952
Glasgow’s Countryside Club visits the North Norfolk Coast, taking in sights along the still-to-be-established National Trail Path. In this clip the group journeys from Morston Quay to explore Blakeney National Nature Reserve. Courtesy of the East Anglian Film Archive at the University of East Anglia
South Downs Way
unknown | UK | 1975
This amateur travelogue-style documentary follows the route of the South Downs Way three years after its official opening, accompanied by a voiceover providing historical narrative on the route and local history of the areas it passes through. Courtesy of Screen Archive South East at the University of Brighton
unknown | UK | 1986
One week before Prince Charles opens the Peddars Way Long Distance Path, local journalist Bruce Robinson talks through the book he has written about the historic Roman road it follows. Courtesy of the East Anglian Film Archive at the University of East Anglia
Country Ways: The Ridgeway in October
Paul Slater | UK | 1988
ITV’s popular Country Ways television series explores The Ridgeway National Trail through the eyes of the people that live and work along the historic pathway, commonly known as ‘Britain’s oldest road’. Courtesy of the Wessex Film and Sound Archive at Hampshire County Council
Check out this rousing and eccentric short film collection, screening at MAST on Thursday 17 November.
This performance will be relaxed. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement, and a chillout space will be available before, during and after the show for anyone that needs a quiet space.
is run by film charity Charity Number 1089882