Alan Clarke and David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen: 40th Anniversary Screening on 16mm


7.30doors (7:45pm start)

£5 advance (CLICK HERE) £6.50 on the door

A benefit event for the Horse Hospital Fundraising Campaign

An extremely rare screening of one of the masterworks of British television drama, showing on a wondrous 16mm print, and on the very anniversary of the death of its eponymous protagonist, Penda, the last pagan king of England (died 15 November 655 AD).

This screening also launches a very special new publication, ‘The Edge Is Where the Centre Is’, a book-length interview with David Rudkin, edited by Sukhdev Sandhu and published by Seen Studio, and available for purchase tonight. The evening will be hosted by Gareth Evans.

Penda’s Fen (1974) 90 mins; Dir. Alan Clarke

This remarkable feature length television film – commissioned for the legendary 1970s ‘Play for Today’ single drama series – is often described as a step ‘off piste’ for its acclaimed director Alan Clarke. That’s a misleading reading, however. The work’s qualities of resistance, questioning and personal and public transformation are entirely in keeping with the normally urban-centric filmmaker’s milieu. But the real credit lies with its writer David Rudkin. An astonishing playwright with a visionary reach and a genuine sense of ‘deep England’ and its radical potential, Rudkin here crafts a multi-layered reading of contemporary society and its personal, social, sexual, psychic and metaphysical fault lines. Fusing Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ with a heightened socialism of vibrantly localist empathy, and pagan belief systems with pre-Norman histories and a seriously committed – and prescient – ecological awareness, Penda’s Fen is a unique and important work of art, one that has profoundly influenced all who have seen it.

Special thanks to David Rudkin, Sukhdev Sandhu, William Fowler, S.F. Said and Sally Golding.