In 2016 Lily Cole directed a short film for her Foundling Fellowship project, in partnership with the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Yorkshire to mark the 200th anniversary of Emily Brontë’s birth. The film was displayed in the Museum’s Committee Room from 31 July 2018 – 2 December 2018.
Balls takes as its starting point Heathcliff, the foundling character central to Wuthering Heights, and explores links between the Foundling Hospital story and the much-loved novel by Brontë. Cole’s film is inspired by two separate but intertwined stories; the real lives of desperate women and the babies they gave up to the care of the Foundling Hospital, which are meticulously documented in the Hospital’s archives; and Heathcliff, the foundling antihero in Wuthering Heights.
Set in modern day Liverpool, the film shines a light on how the lives of women, celebrated or unknown, were so circumscribed by society in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and considers the extent to which progress has been made. To accompany the film, we displayed objects from the Brontë Parsonage Museum relating to the author and her inspiration. The film was also displayed at the Brontë Parsonage Museum and as part of Culture Liverpool 2018.
Balls is co-written by Lily Cole and Stacey Gregg, and produced by Kate Wilson at Fury Films. The film was co-commissioned by the Foundling Museum, Brontë Parsonage Museum and Rapid Response Unit, with support from Arts Council England.
Cole has succeeded, with her curious and gracefully filmed parable of the agonies of adoption
Balls is a modern-day tale about the indomitable nature of the female spirit