Saved events

Rolling in the Deep: Mer-Creatures and Mythology in Global Cinema (15) (Captioned Screening)

Emerging Film Curators 2022

A man stands with his mermaid

Across the world, mermaids appear in films imagining life beyond capitalist and colonial systems. Descend into underwater worlds in this programme of short films exploring the mer-myth.

We present a screening of experimental, documentary and fiction short films from the UK, Philippines, Ghana and Italy, which reinterpret mer-myths to explore the significance of water as a poetic and political space. From a Filipino fishing village to Detroit’s underground techno scene, each film centres the mer-creature to explore themes of Afrofuturism, deep-sea diving, imperial systems of power, storytelling, and gender fluidity. 

Join us to explore alternative portrayals of the mer-figure and the role of myth in shaping collective and political imagination. 

There will be short breaks throughout accompanied by water-based visuals by artist Sophie Mei Birkin, to give audiences a chance to move or reflect. Plus, a live poetry reading by artist and writer, Alexandrina Hemsley who will join academic Dr Geoff Maguire for a ScreenTalk.

Please note the poetry reading and Q&A will be live-captioned and the films will be HOH Captioned

The programme will be accompanied by a feature-length documentary by Mexican director Luis Rincón available online via the Barbican’s platform. 

Please note the screening contains allusions to the death of enslaved people, refugees and people seeking asylum historically and in the present day. 

When purchasing a ticket, please consider making a donation to Indus Relief 2022 here. All funds raised will benefit flooding-affecting families in Upper Sindh, Pakistan. Thank you.

A portrait of an abandoned public swimming facility in Accra, Ghana set on the Riviera, once a colonial luxury tourist development.
Ghana/US, 2011, Akosua Adoma Owusu, 12min

In His Island
A small fishing community struggles amidst an oil spill. Meanwhile, a joyful young boy battling with his identity finds comfort in his dream of becoming a mermaid. 
2017, Philippines, Chan Candelaria, 15min

Artist Agnes Questionmark performs becoming a mermaid in this experimental micro-short, exploring hybrid identities and her own transition. 
2022, Italy, Agnes Questionmark, 2min

The Siren of the Deep 
A term used by diving communities to describe an overwhelming pull to stay at the bottom of the ocean and never come back up. Cosmonauts and divers recall states of bliss and the pain of their return to Earth in this art exhibition short.
2021, UK, Leah Clements, 14min

An Island of Sirens 
Poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan and visual artist Alaa Alsaraji imagine the British state as a sea-monster, whose myths consolidated over centuries disguise the reality of deathly immigration policies towards people seeking asylum. 
2020, UK, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan and Alaa Alsaraji, 4min.

Why Drexciya Took Detroit Electro Underwater 
90s Detroit. Duo James Stinson and Gerald Donald found a new electronic music movement based on the Afro-Futurist myth of Drexciya. Imagining a new world of Black liberation they create one of the most defining movements in dance music.
2019, UK, Resident Advisor, 12min

Plus special feature-length documentary available online at the Barbican Digital Platform:

The Mermaid’s Kingdom
In a Nicaraguan fishing community, divers are getting sick. They descend underwater to look for lobster and return to the surface paralyzed. As the elders of the village attribute the divers’ fate to the “Mermaid” plaguing the village, one man reveals the precarious labour imposed by the fishing companies.
2017, Mexico, Luis Rincón, 75min

Watch now on the Barbican Cinema on Demand Platform



Supported by
A black logo of Arts Council England

About the curators

Charlie Clark and Anna Keeley are two friends who curate mer-themed events together. Charlie is a curator of live art, and is also currently Assistant Producer for art agency, Glimpses. Anna is a producer working in the film industry. She currently works as Assistant to Producer Oliver Kassman at Escape Plan Productions (Saint Maud, The Origin, Love Lies Bleeding) and has produced short film Back Pedal (directed by Avigail Tlalim).

See more film for less

Get 20% off tickets and pay no booking fees. Plus, enjoy priority booking and £6 Members’ Screenings of the latest films every Sunday (T&Cs apply)

Cinema 2