King for a Day

60 minute feature documentary (completed 2022)
by Barbara Santi

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. A cinematic journey interweaving footage spanning 100 years. Filmed over nine years in the shadow of Brexit, the documentary reveals the fragility of a community under duress. 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 poetic, 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. King for a Day is an intimate portrait of a place and community pushed to the margins. Tensions between tradition and progress bring to the fore the importance of cultural identity and the relevance of tradition in our globalised society. 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.

Supported by Sheffield Doc Fest Fast Track to Features, selected for the Specials Board, and selected to pitch at BFI Documentary Film Fund pitch (2014).

Funded by Heritage Lottery, Arts Council England, UK Film Council, Feast Cornwall, and Cultivator Cornwall.

Director/Producer/DOP/Editor - Barbara Santi
Executive Produced - awen productions 
Composer - Jamie Mills
Additional music - the people of Padstow
Aerial and additional photography - Jake Potter
Audio mix - Richard Butler
Colourist - Annette Brown
Editing consultant - Jane Val Baker
Archive - BFI, SWFTA, Malcolm McCarthy, Doc Rowe Collection, people of Padstow.