How do you recreate an un-documented past? How do you define a life? My mother spent many years immersed in genealogical research, but I never took much interest because I was troubled by the way official history often reduces a person’s life to a few cursory lines in musty old books. But then she found something that grabbed my attention - an outlaw ancestor with a mysterious past. "Beyond the Pale" imagines the life and death of my great-great-aunt Kate Tubridy. We never knew she existed until my mom found her death certificate from the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Insane Asylum in Longue-Pointe, Quebec, near Montreal. She was born in County Clare, Ireland, in the 1860s and died at Longue-Pointe in the late 1890s. What happened in between? Using films and photos from the late-nineteenth century and early-twentieth century, I posit a number of possible fictions - probable paths that Kate might have taken before living out the final third of her life in the asylum. At the time of printing, I still have not been able to track down the missing judicial records that explain her committal. So I’m left to invent the rest. The archival research process became an invisible character in this video, as I began to dig deeper and deeper into histories that had previously never caught my imagination. After perusing the film holdings at Library and Archives Canada, I picked up the clues in this cold case and found new hints about Kate’s life and death in various Quebec archives. While surveying the oldest films in the LAC collection, I was particularly curious about the depiction of women in pre-Hollywood moving images. I sought out unusual representations of women to animate the different paths my protagonist might have followed. Using a social-constructionist lens, "Beyond the Pale" suggests that identity and experience are always in process - we weave stories and fictions to make sense of unstable terrain: memory, history, and truth.
Teacher, curator, and artist, Maureen Bradley has produced 32 short films and videos that have screened at festivals and galleries around the globe. Retrospectives of Maureen's work have been programmed in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver, and two of her tapes screened at the Museum of Modern Art (New York). She works in multiple styles and forms including drama, documentary, experimental, and web. Maureen attended the Women in the Director's Chair workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2002. She is the president of CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers and has been involved in artist-run culture in Canada for almost twenty years through Image et Nation, Out On Screen, Video In Studios, Saskatchewan Filmpool and the Independent Media Arts Alliance.