Anchored by ‘Virtual Cinema’ Release Of ‘Seahorse’
People Everyday: The Films of Jeanie Finlay is the first American retrospective devoted to the U.K. documentary filmmaker—all films presented online
Seahorse available exclusively via MoMI from June 5–15, with Live Q&A with Jeanie Finlay on Sunday, June 7, at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Retrospective runs throughout June 2020.
Astoria, New York, May 26, 2020 — Museum of the Moving Image will present a ten-film retrospective of British documentary filmmaker Jeanie Finlay, who is best known for capturing intimate stories of people passionately pursuing idiosyncratic lives. The films range from a portrait of her town’s last-standing record shop in SOUND IT OUT, the stranger-than-fiction tale of the man that many people believed was Elvis back from the grave in Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, to her latest work, Seahorse, which follows a trans man’s journey to fatherhood, by giving birth to his own child. The monthlong series People Everyday: The Films of Jeanie Finlay opens June 5, 2020, and includes the exclusive “virtual cinema” release of Seahorse, which premiered in competition at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
The centerpiece of the retrospective and Finlay’s eighth feature, Seahorse is the story of Freddy, a single dad, as he prepares to conceive right through to birth. Made with unprecedented access and collaboration over three years, it is an intimate, audacious, and lyrical story about conception, pregnancy, birth, and what makes us who we are. The Guardian called it “a tender—and rather wonderful—documentary about love, family, raging hormones, and the complexities of identity.” The Museum’s “virtual cinema” presentation, from June 5 through 14, precedes a wider digital and on-demand release (beginning June 16). View trailer.
Other films in the series: Orion: The Man Who Would Be King (2015), Panto! (2014), The Great Hip Hop Hoax (2013), SOUND IT OUT (2011), Goth Cruise (2008), Teenland (2008), and a program of short films including Indietracks (2016), Nottingham Lace (2010), and Love Takes (2008). See below for descriptions or visit movingimage.us/jeanie-finlay. Finlay’s Emmy-nominated film, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch (2019), for which she spent a year embedded on the set of the HBO series Game of Thrones—and which Indiewire called “beautiful, epic, and heartfelt”—is not part of the retrospective but can be viewed on HBO Go and Vudu.
Curator of Film Eric Hynes, who organized the series, stated: “We’d long planned a retrospective of Jeanie Finlay’s films to accompany the springtime release of Seahorse, spotlighting an artist whose individual works have justly earned praise but whose formidable filmography, forged over the past decade and a half, is overdue for appreciation and appraisal. During the past few months, thanks to the sudden upending of societal and cultural narratives, in which working people, everyday strivers, and local communities have risen to the fore, Finlay’s already essential works of nonfiction have assumed a revelatory power.”
Where other documentaries might make sideshow spectacles of unconventional lifestyles, Finlay has always met her subjects where they are, as equals, focusing on individuals and communities with passions to pursue and stories to tell. Whether she is spending time with a community theater group or hanging out at a local record shop, recounting the story of a journeyman performer or taking a Goth cruise, going deep with teenagers or witnessing the physical and emotional challenges of a trans man who gives birth to his own child, Finlay is always on the level, seeing and celebrating the core person, never implying that she, or we, know them any better than they know themselves. No less important, her films are also a joy to watch, filled with comedy, drama, and personality, including that of the director herself, whose warm, inquisitive voice can occasionally be heard from behind the camera.
In conjunction with the retrospective, the Museum will present a live online conversation with Jeanie Finlay on Sunday, June 7, at 5:00 p.m. EDT about the breadth of her career and her new film Seahorse.
PEOPLE EVERYDAY: THE FILMS OF JEANIE FINLAY
June 3–July 2, 2020
Tickets are $12 for Seahorse ($10 for Museum members). Tickets for other titles are $3.99 ($2.99 for Museum members). A $20 series pass (for all titles excluding Seahorse; $15 for members) is available. View the films from home at movingimage.us/jeanie-finlay
All films directed by Jeanie Finlay.
JUNE 5–15, 2020
2019, 89 mins. Freddy is 30 and yearns to start a family but for him this ordinary desire comes with unique challenges. He is a gay transgender man. Deciding to carry his own baby took years of soul searching, but nothing could prepare him for the reality of pregnancy, as both a physical experience and one that challenges society's fundamental understanding of gender, parenthood, and family. Made with unprecedented access and collaboration over three years, the film follows Freddy from preparing to conceive right through to birth. It is an intimate, audacious and lyrical story about conception, pregnancy, birth and what makes us who we are. More info.
Orion: The Man Who Would Be King
2015, 86 mins. Jeanie Finlay tells the story of Jimmy Ellis – an unknown singer plucked from obscurity and thrust into the spotlight as part of a crazy scheme that had him masquerade as Elvis back from the grave. “Deftly told… a strange and tragic piece of musical history that says worlds about the fickleness of fame and ends with a jolt that makes it even sadder.”—Critic’s Pick, The New York Times
2014, 71 mins. A heartfelt and heartbreaking documentary, Panto! follows a cast of Nottingham amateur actors staging a production of Puss in Boots. This hilarious backstage glimpse follows their attempts to rehearse, provide costumes, and scenery on a minuscule budget. Malfunctioning pyrotechnics and a donkey costume that exposes more than expected are just some of the challenges they face.
The Great Hip Hop Hoax
2013, 86 mins. Foul-mouthed Californian hip hop duo Silibil n' Brains were going to be massive. But no one knew the pair were really amiable Scotsmen, with fake American accents and made up identities. This documentary tells the audacious tale of how two lads from Dundee duped the record industry and nearly destroyed themselves. “A great tale of a rock n roll swindle, told with pop star flair and biting intelligence.”—The Herald
SOUND IT OUT
2011, 75 mins. “It’s all emotions and memories. Records hold memories.” SOUND IT OUT is a documentary portrait of the very last surviving vinyl record shop in Teesside, North East England—a cultural haven in one of the most deprived areas in the U.K., a place that is thriving against the odds and the local community that keeps it alive. Director Jeanie Finlay who grew up three miles from the shop. “Like a mint pressing in a bargain bin SOUND IT OUT is a rare find."—The New York Times
2008, 75 mins. Goth Cruise follows 150 pale “people in black” on a boat, taking part in the absolute antithesis of Goth—a cruise in the blazing sunshine, as they sail around Bermuda for five days on the 4th Annual Goth Cruise. “Disregard everything you know about Goth culture. Goth Cruise is a landmark documentary that takes a candid and ultimately redefining look at what it really means to be Goth.”—Sheffield Documentary Festival
2008, 60 mins. Four bedrooms, four teenagers, four portraits of life behind the closed bedroom door. Teenland takes us into the sanctuary of four British adolescents on the brink of adulthood and explores their passions, obsessions, and hopes for the future. “Brilliant….an almost-fairytale atmosphere as we push the doors into the forbidden kingdom of teenage minds.”—Four Docs
Jeanie Finlay’s Short Films
Indietracks (2016, 30 mins.) In 2007 an indiepop music festival was born in the unlikeliest of settings—a heritage steam train site in Butterley, Derbyshire. Indietracks is a film about big machines, small bands and unbridled passion.
Nottingham Lace (2010, 25 mins.) Once the Lace Market of Nottingham pounded to the heavy metal beat of its handmade lace-making machines… but no more. Cluny Lace is the last of the lace makers.
Love Takes (2008, 10 mins). Finding Mr. Right is apparently as difficult at 8 as it is at 80. Love Takes charts the places that love takes us and leaves us as we fall in and out of love over a lifetime.