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Biography

Susan Thomson is a writer and filmmaker based in Dublin and Brighton. She holds a Masters in European Literature and Film from Magdalen College, Oxford University, an MA in Modern Languages from Trinity Hall, Cambridge and a Masters in Fine Art from IADT, Dublin. She has received numerous bursaries and project awards from the Arts Council. Her artist’s book The Swimming Diaries is available from Artbook @ MoMA PS1, New York, the ibookstore and is held in the collection of the Live Art Development Agency, and she has written for many publications including Circa, IMMA magazine, the Times, Women’s News, GCN and JSTOR.

She is currently directing a trilogy of films on British postcolonial LGBTQ+ issues, Ghost Empire, funded by an Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Project Award. Ghost Empire § Belize will premiere at the IFI Irish Film Institute Documentary Festival in September 2021. Ghost Empire § Singapore was recently screened on NVTV, Belfast in 2020 and at Anthology Film Archives, New York City as an Altfest Special Program in 2016. Ghost Empire § Cyprus (2014, 35 mins) / Ghost Empire § Singapore (2014, 59 minutes) were nominated together as a feature for best international film at MICGĂ©nero film festival, Mexico City in 2015 and selected to tour round seven Mexican states. Ghost Empire § Singapore won the award for best feature film at Direct Short and Documentary Film Festival, July 2015. It was also official selection at Unspoken Human Rights Film Festival, Utica, New York, and has being screened internationally at universities including Yale NUS, Edinburgh University and El Colef, Mexico, as well as at political fora including the Scottish Government, and screenings and lectures include SOAS and INIVA, London, in 2017. Ghost Empire § Cyprus was screened in 2020 at Queer Asia film festival virtual charities screening in London. It was  Official Selection at Mumbai Queer International Film Festival in 2016, Official selection at World of Film International festival, at CCA, Glasgow, at Culture Unplugged Film Festival, and has been screened at Limerick City Gallery, Ireland and EMAA, Nicosia.  The project, has been quoted in a report ‘Speaking Out’ for the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka. Represented by William Morris Endeavor WME in London between 2017-2019, Susan has recently completed a novel about Roger Casement. She has recently completed a new essay film, The Cytokine Storms in 2020 funded by a Covid grant from the Arts Council of Ireland, exploring the colonial echoes of the UK government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is available to watch on Circa art magazine's website, and has been screened at Sussex University, Centre for World Environmental History in 2021. Susan discussed the project on the Quarantini podcast.


Susan was part of the ‘Troubling Ireland’ Think Tank, led by Danish curators Kuratorisk Aktion in association with Fire Station Artists’ Studios, Dublin. Additionally, she was Director of Photography of Gympressive which was longlisted for a British Comedy Award in 2014. The film Fire Practice Theatre (2009) had solo shows at thisisnotashop, Dublin and Broadcast gallery, Dublin, was screened as an official selection at HDFest, Portland, Oregon, at Union Docs, New York, and screened at ‘No Soul for Sale’ in the Tate Modern, London.


Artist Statement

My practice looks at issues around global LGBTQ+ human rights, postcolonialism and the Law. I am researching the intersection between British colonialism and LGBTQ+ rights, looking at British colonial laws from the 19th and early 20th century. Currently around half of the countries which criminalize homosexuality use British colonial laws or revised versions of these laws, meaning that British colonial laws are responsible for criminalizing LGBT people in 34 countries. The films follow constitutional challenges to these laws happening in three different continents. These films are the only films made about these legal challenges in Northern Cyprus, Singapore and Belize.

The films function as both documentary films and also use the language of conceptual art practice. Time, including unconscious time, anachronistic or posttraumatic time and the repetitive narratives these create is a theme in my work. The unusual time zones created by the existence of old laws within a contemporary setting give the surreal effect of the presence of history.  Ghost Empire is a trilogy of films, on Cyprus, Singapore and Belize which also explore other colonial laws such as sedition or detention without trial which are still in use in many countries.




CV:    Curriculum Vitae
Email: susanmackaythomson[at]gmail.com
Twitter: @scmthomson
Facebook:  Ghost Empire Films
Instagram: susanthomson_ghostempire