Padstow People 'King for a Day' 22nd March 2023

Padstow people try to preserve their heritage and traditions. Having been sent this to promote I was struck by the importance of getting this message out to as many people as possible. If the complete documentary is as good as the trailer then this really is an important piece of docufilm and a record of Padstow in the first half of the 21st century. This docufilm has been nominated in the Documentary Feature at the prestigious Celtic Media Festival in Ireland.

Although this film relates to Padstow in fact this could almost be anywhere in Cornwall where communities are being ripped apart and diluted through what many see as Cornwall's industrial saviour, tourism. Second houses, let's be frank these are not homes, and Airbnb's now dominate many coastal villages and communities throughout Cornwall. During the winter months in some villages you would think they were a ghost town with up to 80% of houses empty. The loss of local families that had their roots in these villages for generations also means the loss of those community traditions only remembered through photographs and occasional recordings.    

The continuation of traditional cultural activities such as May Day and the teasing of the Obby Oss through the streets of Padstow is an opportunity for local Cornish people to claim a day back for their local community. Events such as St Piran's Day celebrations, Cornwall's National Day allows some communities to try and reassert their Cornish roots. The fight back against the loss of Cornish traditions is led by groups who need to engage with younger local people, but that in its self is a struggle to find those interested. However the resurgence of interest in Celtic themed music and the ongoing success of annual festivals such as Lowender Peran certainly helps. 

King for a Day will be premiered in Padstow on 25th March 2023 before being shown at other venues throughout Cornwall. These include at The Tate St. Ives - May 1st at 3.00pm, at the St Just Lafrowda Festival in May and in Penzance during June at the Golowan Festival, Dates and times for Lafrowda and Golowan to be advised via Facebook at 

King for a Day is a poetic archive-led documentary immersing us in the personal story of the people of Padstow, their ancient rituals and the challenges they face in a rapidly changing world. Tensions between tradition and progress punctuate the importance of cultural identity and the relevance of folk customs in our globalised society. King for a Day is an intimate portrait of a place and community pushed to the margins. A cinematic journey interweaving audio-visual archive spanning 150 years. Will this be the last generation to tease the ‘Old Oss’ from his stable to welcome the Summer?

King for a Day is the inspirational story of indigenous Britain following a marginalized community at the heart of one of Europe’s oldest folk customs, told through the narratives and archives of its people. A personal insight into a community in transition – Padstow’s “sexy, savage springtime rite”, known as the Obby Oss, is an ancient, ritualistic celebration welcoming the summer on May 1st. Filmed over nine years in the shadow of Brexit, the documentary reveals how the tradition acts as a form of community defiance and a vehicle for the Padstow people to have a voice. For the first time, we see the significance of May Day through local eyes.

King for a Day is a story about friendship, hope, celebration and unity.