Private Project


TROUBLE is the second part of a project that uses archive photographs to explore a history of bombing. While puzzling over aerial photographs from early 20th century Iraq and Egypt, a filmmaker finds herself increasingly unsettled by images that want to share their violent secrets. England has been colonised by a marauding spirit and the Empire’s undead start to speak back to the film’s troubled investigator. Moving between the recent past and the distant past, this film is a ghost story that explores horror -- both real and imagined.

  • Miranda Pennell
    Strange Object (2020, 15min); The Host (2016, 60 minutes); Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed (2011, 28 min); Drum Room (2007, 15min); You made me love you (2005, 4min); Fisticuffs (2004, 11 min); Magnetic North (2003, 8 min); Human Radio (2002, 9 min); Tattoo (2001, 9 min)
  • Miranda Pennell
  • Miranda Pennell
  • Miranda Pennell
  • John Smith
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Archives, History, Horror
  • Runtime:
    33 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 17, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    1,500 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, analogue archives
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Miranda Pennell
    Country: United Kingdom
Director Biography - Miranda Pennell

Miranda Pennell lives in London. Her work uses photographic archives as the starting point for a reflection on colonial legacies.

Pennell received an MA in visual anthropology in 2010 from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and she completed her practice-led PhD research at the University of Westminster in 2016. Her films have been screened including at Rotterdam International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Experiment at London International Film Festival and at the Viennale.
Screenings and exhibitions include 'Evil Eye: The Parralel Histories of Optics and Ballistics' (2023) Tabakalera, San Sebastian; 'Intersectional Geographies' (2022) Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol; Lahore Biennale (2020),'Tanzbilder' at the Neues Museum Nuremberg (2019), one-person programme at the Stuttgart FilmWinter Festival for Expanded Media (2019)

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Director Statement

I borrowed from genre fiction to help convey and dramatise a disturbing subject by drawing on conventions associated with worlds of fantasy and cinematic pleasure.

With TROUBLE, the aerial photos of Iraq which I stitch together with pins over the course of the film, sometimes look like parts of a giant, swollen and scarred body. I couldn't help thinking about the people who were bombed and burnt by British aeroplanes in the 20’s. At the same time, I’m fascinated by the orientalist myth of the Mummy’s Curse, that holds that colonial archaeologists, and also any person who comes into contact with objects looted and exported from the Orient, may be struck down by the vengeful spirits of the dead. By interweaving fragments of early horror film soundtracks, I hoped to draw attention to the actual horror of experienced by those living under colonial bombs, but also, in other places, to the coloniser’s fear of the native ‘other’, the unconscious knowledge that violence begets violence, the suspicion that some kind of consequence or revenge will follow.