The Whitworth presents Familiar Phantoms, a major new film by artists and long-time collaborators Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind. It is a joint commission with Film and Video Umbrella with support from IMMA.

Familiar Phantoms draws on Sansour’s family history in Palestine and Russia, providing an intimate insight into how personal identity is shaped by geo-political events and the experiences of our ancestors imprint themselves on our lives.

An abandoned mansion provides the backdrop for reenacted family recollections, with scenes entwined with super 8 footage and material from the artist’s personal archive.

The film begins in Palestine in 1916, when, along with tens of thousands of other young Palestinian men, Sansour’s great-grandfather fled to South America to avoid being captured and conscripted by Ottoman troops to fight in the First World War.

Familiar Phantoms then moves us to Moscow where Sansour’s father lived during a period of exile due to his affiliation with the Communist Party. Returning to Bethlehem, viewers are guided through Sansour’s childhood memories with evocative imagery; a young Sansour burning political pamphlets to avoid trouble with authorities, the local milkman, the French nuns running the catholic school, neighbours, pilgrims, fairy tales and legends.

Hazy memories are central to the film, and the collective nostalgia, myths and symbiotic relationship between past, present and future contrast the politically charged backdrop of Palestine.

Familiar Phantoms comes to The Whitworth from Thu 2 Mar – Sun 21 May. You can find more details here.

Thu 2 Mar - Sun 21 May, The Whitworth,
Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER
Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Fri 3 Mar 2023