Beg Steal Borrow is delighted to announce the completion of two new movies, Letters to Ariadne and St Mary Magdalen’s Home Movies.

Letters to Ariadne
Letters to Ariadne is a film comprised of a series of letters from William Brown to his two-year old niece, Ariadne.

Created using footage gathered in various places in 2015, the film contains reflections and advice for an infant growing up in today’s world.

The film takes in various key themes, including art, migration, nature (especially flowers), metamorphosis and Greek mythology – especially the myth of Ariadne (whose thread helped Theseus to defeat the minotaur).

The film features very brief cameos from filmmakers Mania Akbari and Lav Diaz, while also featuring friends and family members from places as diverse as England and Scotland, Canada and the USA, Italy, France, Mexico, Sweden, Macedonia and China.

The film is partly indebted to a Brown Fellowship that William won from the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, to spend a month at the house of the late artist and photographer, Dora Maar, in Ménerbes, France.

Furthermore, the Macedonian section of the film was made possible thanks to the CineDays Film Festival in Skopje, while the Swedish and Chinese sections were made possible thanks to the Universities of Skövde, Gothenburg and Nottingham Ningbo China, respectively.

Ariadne

Ariadne (above) lies at the heart of Letters to Ariadne

St Mary Magdalen’s Home Movies
Drawing on over a dozen films, St Mary Magdalen’s Home Movies demonstrates the way in which Magdalen College, Oxford, has repeatedly been used by filmmakers in a strikingly patterned way.

Across nearly every film set or shot at Magdalen, the college’s front-facing tower has repeatedly been represented as a space associated with heterosexuality, coloniality and the regulation of time, while the college’s rear New Buildings and, more particularly, its deer park, have been depicted as one or a combination of female, postcolonial and in particular queer.

The aim of this essay-film, however, is not simply to demonstrate an esoteric pattern exclusive to the analysis of an equally exclusive place. Rather, it is to suggest that there is a ‘sexuality of space’ that both is expressed by and which expresses places that regularly we see on film.

That is, beyond the case study given here, St Mary Magdalen’s Home Movies demonstrates a new way of looking at how particular locations are treated in cinema – while at the same time using the essay film form itself as a means of providing a ‘queer’ (back) entry both into film studies and, in this particular instance, into a space that is otherwise accessed only by a privileged few.

St Mary Magdalen’s Home Movies draws inspiration from a combination of films like Rock Hudson’s Home Movies (Mark Rappaport, USA, 1992) and Les dites cariatides/The So-Called Caryatids (Agnès Varda, France, 1984).

It features footage from a variety of films, including Scholastic England (James A FitzPatrick, USA, 1948), Accident (Joseph Losey, UK, 1967), Purab aur Paschim (Manoj Kumar, India, 1970), Summoned by Bells (Jonathan Stedall, UK, 1976), Howards End (James Ivory, UK/Japan/USA, 1992), Shadowlands (Richard Attenborough, UK, 1993), Robinson in Space (Patrick Keiller, UK, 1997), Wilde (Brian Gilbert, UK/Germany/Japan, 1997), The Mystic Masseur (Ismail Merchant, UK/India/USA, 2001), Blue Blood (Stevan Riley, UK, 2006), The History Boys (Nicholas Hytner, UK, 2006), Brideshead Revisited (Julian Jarrold, UK/Italy/Morocco, 2008) and Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe (Charlie Brooker, UK, 2015).

The film was made with thanks to Rachel Dwyer, Christine Ferdinand, David Pattison, and Mr and Mrs 55, whose translation of ‘Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Tod De’ is featured in the subtitles.

The film premiered at the 2016 Film-Philosophy Conference at the University of Edinburgh – and we hope that there will be screenings of both films at other venues soon!

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