black strangers, 2022
Single-channel video, 8 minutes 13 seconds

Synopsis
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 of 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.

black strangers is part of Right of Way, a new feature-length programme that mixes stunning new artists’ commissions with historical archive films that give a bigger picture of questions of access and inclusion in the UK countryside.

Credits
Director / Editor / Writer / Performer: Dan Guthrie
Camera Operator / Colourist: Nielsan Bohl
Camera Operator: Conrad Bohl
Shoot Assistant: Elizabeth Jordan
Sound Recordist / Sound Designer: Mae-Li Evans
Sound Mixer: Felix Taylor
Thanks: Gloucestershire Archives, Tim French / PIWORLD, Max Porter, Ben GJ Thomas, Rosa-Johan Uddoh
Co-commissioned by LUX and Independent Cinema Office, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

Screenings

Right of Way UK screening tour, September 2022 - September 2023
Right of Way preview screening, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, September 2022
Right of Way launch screening+ Q&A, Lewes Depot, September 2022
Right of Way British Art Show 9 screening, Plymouth Arts Cinema, October 2022
Right of Way Radical Landscapes screening + Q&A, Warwick Arts Centre, November 2022
Right of Way Out of Arcadia screening + Q&A, Watershed, November 2022
Arcadian Rhythms: Interlude, December 2022
Right of Way exhibition, LUX, January - March 2023
Haunting Ashton Court: An Evening of Performance, January 2023
Forum Expanded, Berlinale, February 2023
Right of Way Experimenta screening + Q&A, BFI Southbank, February 2023

Texts / Reviews
“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, trespassing, activism and raves? Paired with archive films that show that the life of the countryside contains multitudes and disrupt simple narratives, 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.” — Right of Way press release

“In only one of the archive films do you see a person of colour, which sets up the conversation for at least one of the three new artists’ films in the second half. They’ve clearly been commissioned to give a kick up the backside to the postcard image of sleepy white rural England. Artist Dan Guthrie from Stroud directs a film called black strangers, inspired by an entry in old parish records from 1719 – the burial of a “black stranger” also called Daniel. In his tender, emotional film Guthrie walks through the countryside talking aloud to 18th-century Daniel. Did he experience the same feelings of being judged and excluded in the countryside. Did he get the same microaggressions: the looks and “not from round here” comments?” - Cath Clarke, The Guardian

“Guthrie searches through maps and documents, films himself tramping through the undergrowth and speculating on commonalities between the experiences of Dan and Daniel. It is a confessional piece in many ways, an obsession that reveals much about Guthrie and the desire for connection that this landscape represents as well as the ways in which the woodland marks a kind of continuity with generations that come before.” - Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

“The films and installations that make up this year’s Forum Expanded programme revolve around – in fluctuating proximities – political and personal legacies which often lie in shambles. Diverse in their forms and subjects, the works share an emotional bond, which serves to keep them on the atypical orbits they move along. With their makers keen on artistic experimentation, they inspect, probe and scrutinise – their findings propelling them forward on ever-changing and surprising trajectories.” - 73rd Berlinale Forum Expanded curatorial statement