Marianna Simnett: The Bird Game and Confessions of a Crow

Marianna Simnett: The Bird Game and Confessions of a Crow

Film and Video Umbrella

Image: Amy Gwatkin.

March 18, 2021
Marianna Simnett
The Bird Game and Confessions of a Crow
March 18–April 17, 2021

Film and Video Umbrella and the Rothschild Foundation are pleased to announce a month-long online screening of Marianna Simnett’s The Bird Game (2019), accompanied by a new film Confessions of a Crow (2021).

Confessions of a Crow is a companion to The Bird Game that draws out the ideas and influences of the film and deftly echoes its structure and mood. Assembling reflections from artists, writers and creative collaborators, it integrates them with the maverick musical musings of Simnett’s ringleader Crow herself.

Writers Marina Warner, Charlie Fox and James Bridle, artist Lindsey Mendick, and composer Oliver Coates speak eloquently about The Bird Game’s overlapping themes, which range from the insidious impact of new digital technologies to the enduring power of fantasy and mythology, and focus on the hypnotic, addictive and increasingly sleepless hyperactivity of contemporary life. With the aid of behind-the-scenes footage and archive photographs of Waddesdon Manor, where The Bird Game was shot, Simnett dives into the history of the house which accommodated evacuee children in the Second World War, and to this day houses some of the rarest species of songbirds in its magnificent aviary. The troubling link between caging and caring is teased out through Crow’s terrifying grip on her child-prey, and her shifting role between abuser and abused. 

The Bird Game was commissioned to mark the 150th anniversary of the Evelina Children’s Hospital for Sick Children, named after the wife of Ferdinand de Rothschild who also created Waddesdon Manor, and comes at a time when the mental health of the young has become a matter of growing attention and concern.

“Crow says anyone can play The Bird Game. In fact, you only need to look around to realise it’s already being played by millions all over the world. But you have to be ready to play. The Bird Game is for those whose brains can’t be fried by corrosive systems. The Bird Game is for the mutants and monsters and mermaids and cyborgs and aliens and werewolves and unicorns. Crow says we are all sick, every one of us, yes you and you and you and you and you and you and yes you too. And the sooner you get along with that the sooner you’ll win the game. Another thing. In The Bird Game, the rules can change at any moment. There is no stable ground to stand on. And so the only thing to do is to stay alert, embrace the strangeness and fly into the flame.”
–Marianna Simnett

“a modern fable of abuse, trauma and transformation.”

“in the same way that Crow gets into the brains of these children, Simnett affects us as our expectations are artfully subverted around each turn.”
Millenium Film Journal

The Bird Game (2019) by Marianna Simnett. Co-written by Marianna Simnett and Charlie Fox, starring Joanne Whalley as “Crow,” produced by Sophie Neave, shot by Robbie Ryan BSC, with music by Oliver Coates.

Produced by Film and Video Umbrella. Co-commissioned by the Rothschild Foundation, Frans Hals Museum, and Film and Video Umbrella. FVU is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Waddesdon Manor is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Rothschild Foundation.

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March 18, 2021

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