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Sunday Shorts: May Day

This series of Sunday Shorts takeS on the theme of May Day and thinks about all the images and ideas that it inspires; especially notions of folk traditions and the ‘green and pleasant land.’

As with most of the previous weekly selections and we begin in the archives with this very early celebration of May Day from 1899. It shows a very early parade down Cockermouth’s Main Street, there is much pageantry during the event, with the procession dressed up in all their finery, and shows the collective celebration of the day.


Amateur film, May Day, 1899: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-may-day-1899-online

In the film Quarantine, morris-dancing a key activity associated with may-day, plays a central role. The animated film by Astrid Goldsmith, is described ‘as a post-Brexit pagan dance fantasy,’ and follows a troupe of Morris-dancing badgers who are trying to avoid the animal quarantine compound which has been built above their burrow.


Astrid Goldsmith, Quarantine, 2018: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-quarantine-2018-online

Next up is Without Bounds to Beat, by Oliver Endersby that explores the revival of a folk tradition in Rye. It offers a contrast to the typical narrative around such things, which usually speak of the slow death of traditions especially in small communities and places.

Oliver Endersby, Without Bounds to Beat, 2019: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-without-bounds-to-beat-2019-online

Following this is the film The Green and Pleasant Land by Max Colson which was made one year after the UK voted to leave the European Union. It offers a meditation what is considered British, especially in relation to the representation of its landscape.


Oliver Endersby, Without Bounds to Beat, 2019: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-without-bounds-to-beat-2019-online

Links to Films:

Amateur film, May Day, 1899: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-may-day-1899-online

Astrid Goldsmith, Quarantine, 2018: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-quarantine-2018-online

Oliver Endersby, Without Bounds to Beat, 2019: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-without-bounds-to-beat-2019-online


Max Colson, The Green and Pleasant Land, 2019: https://vimeo.com/327925492


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