A Canterbury Tale 80th Anniversary

A programme celebrating and exploring Powell and Pressburger’s
A Canterbury Tale in 1944 and 2024

Thelma Schoonmaker Powell in Conversation, ‘Every Age is a Canterbury Pilgrimage’ conference, ‘Film, Art, Archive and Archaeology’ exhibition, plus a special introduced screening of A Canterbury Tale

The ‘A Canterbury Tale 80th Anniversary’ programme explores the breadth, significance, and enduring relevance and inspiration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s classic film A Canterbury Tale (1944). Mysterious, spiritual, surprising and often very funny, the shared journey of three young people who meet by chance one night during WW2 includes views of the city and its people, and those of its surrounding villages and landscape, which resonate still as a unique portrait of English identity and spirit worth fighting for.

The School of Creative Arts & Industries at Canterbury Christ Church University is delighted to present a series of free and ticketed events for a wide audience to enjoy, from students and scholars to film lovers and local residents.

Here at CCCU we have run a successful film department since 1980 and have a long history of film events including screenings, exhibitions, and masterclass workshops. Our main film building is named after Michael Powell who was born just outside Canterbury; we have a Michael Powell Archive and have worked with the British Film Institute on events including a major exhibition on A Canterbury Tale  for its 60th anniversary in 2004. We have close contact with Thelma Schoonmaker Powell (she is a fellow of our institution) who we welcome back to join us this year for an ‘In Conversation’ event.

Please scroll down to find out more! We look forward to seeing you.

In Conversation: Thelma Schoonmaker Powell

A conversation between multiple Oscar winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker Powell and Ian Christie exploring her career as an editor spanning over 44 years, working closely with Martin Scorsese on all his films from Raging Bull (1980) to Killers of the Flower Moon (2023). Thelma brings her wealth of industry experience and insight to this very special event, both to her own work and that of Martin Scorsese and her late husband Michael Powell. 

A unique opportunity for students, staff and the public to engage in an exciting discussion about Powell and Pressburger’s work, its importance and relevance in a contemporary world.

Saturday 15 June 13:00-15:00
Powell Building, Canterbury Christ Church University

Book tickets for the In Conversation here

Delegates with a conference pass attend this event as part of their fee and do not need to register or pay separately. 

Thelma Schoonmaker Powell

Conference: Every Age is a Canterbury Pilgrimage - Powell and Pressburger’s ‘A Canterbury Tale’ 1944 and 2024

We welcome keynotes and a wide range of speakers to celebrate the breadth, relevance and continuing inspiration of A Canterbury Tale, placing the film as central to the concerns of the mid-20th century, and to issues and understandings central to our own times. We explore its contribution to film history, links to current and past filmmakers and its huge influence on creative productions across the visual and other arts, aiming also for the conference to serve as a platform to launch the development of an edited collection focussing on the film.

Friday 14 June 11:00-18:00, Saturday 15 June 09:30-15:00
Powell Building, Canterbury Christ Church University
£45 two days /£25 single day / free to CCCU students and staff

Book for the conference here

Keynote Speaker: Ian Christie

Ian Christie is a film and media historian and curator, currently Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck, University of London and teaching at the UK National Film and Television School. Amongst many other curatorial and publishing projects since the 1970s, in 1978 at the BFI he organised the first full-scale Powell-Pressburger retrospective at the National Film Theatre. Commissioned to mark Powell’s 80th birthday, he wrote Arrows of Desire: The Films and Powell and Pressburger (Waterstone 1985) and helped in the first restoration of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. With Andrew Moor he co-edited The Cinema of Michael Powell: International Perspectives on an English Film-Maker (BFI 2005) and has been involved in many TV programmes and video releases of Powell-Pressburger films. Recently he contributed to The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger: Romantic Imaginations (BFI 2023) and the 2023 Bologna Cinema Ritrovato Powell retrospective. His lectures on Powell and Pressburger for Gresham College are available here 

Keynote speaker: Andrew Moor

Andrew Moor is the author of Powell and Pressburger: A Cinema of Magic Spaces (I B Tauris, London 2012) and with Ian Christie he co-edited The Cinema of Michael Powell: International Perspectives on an English Film-Maker (BFI, London 2005).

He has written widely on aspects of British and LGBTQ+ cinema and recently programmed a season of Powell and Pressburger screenings and events at HOME Manchester as part of the BFI’s celebration of their work.

Andrew Moor

Draft Programme

Friday 14 June

From 10:30




Welcome and Keynote

Andrew Moor: The Ethics of the Archers, or What are we meant to do with Thomas Colpeper?


Panel 1

Julian Petley: Messages from Canterbury
María Del Rincón Yohn: Impossible memories in Canterbury: Signs of absence and nostalgia of the future in A Canterbury Tale
Lisa Hood: “You’re a pilgrim yourself but you don’t know it.” Miss Smith’s pilgrimage: blessing, penance or instrument?
Tony Richards: A Canterbury Tale & The Rem(a)inder of Being





Panel 2

James Chapman: The industrial and economic contexts of Powell and Pressburger’s wartime films
Gregory M Semenza and Garrett A Sullivan Jr: “A Canterbury Tale and The Archers’ Wartime Propaganda Program”
Garrett A Sullivan Jr and Gregory M Semenza: “A Canterbury Tale, Hollywood, and Anglo-American Relations”





Panel 3

Carolyn Owen King: A Haunted Year: 1944, A Canterbury Tale (Powell and Pressburger) and The Halfway House (Basil Dearden)
Liz Samson: Liminal Spaces in A Canterbury Tale
John Ellis: We modern pilgrims see no journey's end


A Canterbury Tale Film Locations Walk

Laura Wirtz, Powell & Pressburger Appreciation Society

Saturday 15 June

From 09:30




Ian Christie: The Making of a Modern Magus: From Colpeper to Prospero reimagined


Panel 4

Lawrence Jackson: ‘Magicians Responsible for the Magic Spaces on Screen’: The Relationship between Landscape and the Figure of the Magician/Guardian in A Canterbury Tale, Excalibur and A Field in England
David Cottis: A Canterbury Tale as Folk Horror
Bryan Hawkins: A Canterbury Tale as an Enchanted Archaeology, 1944 and 2024
Dr John Grisby and Dr Jake Weekes with Bryan Hawkins: A View from The Downs - Julliberries Grave and Down above Chillingbourne, Canterbury





In Conversation

Thelma Schoonmaker Powell
Multiple Oscar-winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker Powell explores her career with Professor Ian Christie, bringing a wealth of industry experience and insight to her own work and that of Martin Scorsese and her late husband Michael Powell.


There are many accommodation options in and around Canterbury at varying prices. Here are some options:
5-10-minute walk from conference venue
  • Travelodge Canterbury Chaucer Hotel
  • Canterbury Cathedral Lodge
  • Cathedral Gate Hotel
  • Premier Inn Canterbury City Centre
11-20-minute walk from conference venue
  • Abode Hotel
  • Falstaff Hotel
  • Best Western Abbots Barton


You can find more information about getting to the campus on the University on our maps and directions pages

Exhibition: Powell and Pressburger’s ‘A Canterbury Tale’ 1944 and 2024 - Film, Art, Archive and Archaeology

Launching the Powell Contemporary Gallery at Canterbury Christ Church University, the exhibition considers Powell and Pressburger’s 1944 filmic masterpiece through the arts, the Michael Powell Archive held at the university, contemporary creative responses and the film’s important connection with archaeology as narrative, theme, and metaphor.

In 2024, A Canterbury Tale remains relevant: Its focus on war, displacement, disruption, threat, change and cultural shift resonates in Britain, Europe and beyond. The exhibition, curated by Bryan Hawkins (Artist in in Residence, Canterbury Archaeological Trust), explores these themes and the film’s concern with complex senses of identity, the romantic and modernist legacy in the arts and with magical and trans-historical senses of spirituality and landscape which reach beyond it 80 years on.

Friday 14 June – Friday 12 July
Powell Building, Canterbury Christ Church University

No booking required
The exhibition is free to enter Mon-Fri, 10:00-15:00
Additional opening days may be added after 12 July – details will be posted here. 

In association with Canterbury Archaeological Trust

Special introduced screening of ‘A Canterbury Tale’

Evoking Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, we meet three modern ‘pilgrims’ – land girl Alison, American officer Bob and British officer Peter – who connect by chance one night in a rural railway station on their ways to Canterbury. Mysterious, spiritual, surprising and often very funny, their shared journey offered audiences during WW2 a picture of English identity, landscape and spirit worth fighting for.

Directors: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger / UK 1944 / 125mins

Introduced by Eddie McMillan, Senior Lecturer, School of Creative Arts & Industries.

Monday 10 June, 18:00
Curzon Canterbury Westgate Cinema

Book here for the screening of A Canterbury Tale

For any questions relating to the A Canterbury Tale 80th Anniversary events programme, please contact us at act@canterbury.ac.uk