Image for Right of Way


Right of Way

23 March

Thurs 23 March | 20.45 | CCA Cinema


This collaboration between LUX and the Independent Cinema Office combines new artists’ commissions with historical archive films that give a bigger picture of questions of access and inclusion in the UK countryside. It’s inspired by the foundation of the National Trails. Set up to resist sweeping industrialisation, these protected landscapes were created with a vision to ‘connect people to the rural landscape’.

But during the COVID-19 pandemic – as people realised anew the importance of nature and open spaces for our health and mental wellbeing – inequalities of access to rural land were being exposed, revealing the disconnect felt by millions of people towards the UK countryside. A 2019 government review found that many Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people view the countryside as an ‘irrelevant white, middle-class club’, concluding that this divide is only going to widen as society changes and ‘the countryside will end up being irrelevant to the country that actually exists’.

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 offers a platform for debate on historical and contemporary discussions about who has a right to the great outdoors and who is excluded from it. 

All films captioned for d/Deaf viewers.

Presented by the ICO and LUX and supported by the BFI Film Audience Network and Arts Council England.

Black Strangers

A walk in the woods in search of Daniel, a man buried in Nympsfield in 1719 and described in archive documents as “a black stranger”.

Pastoral Malaise

A meditative reflection on the absences found in rural pastoral environments, that are often framed by a false romanticism and picturesque conventions.

Syncopated Green

Reflecting on the history of outdoor free parties in the English countryside, using rave music, past and present, to help forget the ‘official’ portrayal of England as picturesque, nostalgic, white, and rural. Somewhere between a music video, a memoir and an essay, it asks: how might our future be different if we had other histories to lean on – and dance with?

  • Recommended age 12+
  • Duration 1h30m
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