Me and Mine is a 40-minute film that explores empathy and the way in which entering someone else’s pain allows one to see the world through another’s eyes, to travel. In its setting, the funeral industry, the film compares this compassionate state to death: equally a journey into the unknown. Further to this, Me and Mine stands as a study of the cultural and economic forces surrounding the business of death.
Beech examines how the traditionally feminine values of empathy and care have become increasingly important within industries which may once have been dominated by men, following a female undertaker as she negotiates her way through the funeral business, as well as her experience as a woman among women.
Although the business is changing, the film’s opening scene of starched white collars and shining black hearses reminds us that the funeral industry remains dominated by men. Women are increasingly moving into the field and challenging tradition, and this challenge of norms within social groups, private and public worlds and the fight between tradition and innovation is the prime concern of the film.
Looking at how women sustain communities, often in direct opposition to set-in patriarchal systems, Me and Mine studies the way in which the redefining and reframing of ideas such ‘empathy’ and ‘care’ can alter or reinforce gender stereotypes – and explores how the ‘business of death’ could change as a result. As the film’s protagonist asks: ‘We are the natural carers, aren’t we?’
Lucy Beech: Me and Mine, 2 May – 4 July at Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Market Square, Preston, Lancashire PR1 2PP. For more information visit www.fvu.co.uk. It also screens from 17 July – 27 September at The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds LS10 1JQ. For further details see www.thetetley.org
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1. Lucy Beech, Me and Mine. Courtesy of the artist. Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella (FVU).