Property Rites
TitleProperty Rites
DirectorHeather Powell
CountryUK
Year1984
Duration59mins
Format16mm, Umatic video
DescriptionCathy lives an apparently uneventful life in Birmingham, until she is asked to write an article for a community magazine. The mystery surrounding the death in 1817 of Mary Ashford, and the sensational trial and acquittal of Abraham Thornton for her rape and murder appears to be a straightforward subject, but Cathy gradually realises that things are not what they seem. Why was Mary's character debated at such length? Why were certain pieces of evidence ignored in the attempt to establish Thornton's innocence or guilt? In her search for missing links an event in Cathy's own life takes on a new significance. Shot in and around Birmingham, PROPERTY RITES investigates ideas and assumptions underlying common attitudes to sexual violence, and by using a mixture of fiction and documentary material unravels a version of our history, previously hidden. 'Heather Powell draws on her own experience in a rape crisis centre to produce a meticulous and multi-layered exploration of questions surrounding rape; its presentation in courts of law, its representation in the media, the pain experienced by its past and present victims...' (Erica Carter, Spare Rib)