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Stories We Tell Film Series: Cleophas and His Own

In collaboration with the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, with support provided by the Art Bridges Foundation, the Museum of Fine Arts is proud to present “Stories We Tell,” a film series centered on LGBTQ artists, filmmakers, and allies and their role in advancing conversations about art, social justice, and queer visibility. The series ends with an in-person screening in the MFA’s Marly Room!

Cleophas and His Own: In September of 1943, the typescript of a private, unpublished narrative was discovered in Corea, Maine, among the belongings of the American modernist painter and poet Marsden Hartley — just a few days after his death. This powerful and poignant elegy called Cleophas and His Own and written by Hartley to assuage his grief at the loss of a young man he loved, is now a feature-length film directed by Michael Maglaras and produced by Terri Templeton of 217 Films.

The film presents Hartley (played by Maglaras) seated in his makeshift studio in Corea in 1943 where, tired and ill, he recounts a tragic story to an unseen visitor of the sad fate that befell the Francis Mason family: a family of farmers and fishermen with whom he lived on a remote island in Nova Scotia seven years before. Using Hartley’s text in its entirety and preserving the poem’s 13-chapter structure, the film uses flashbacks and employs 24 of Hartley’s paintings and drawings to tell of the events leading up to and following the Atlantic hurricane of September 19, 1936, when Hartley lost the young man who had become the love of his life. Following the death of this young man, the last seven years of Hartley’s life were devoted to reliving these experiences through poetry and painting, leaving behind a body of work, second to none in the American experience, devoted to this young man’s memory and his love the Mason family. 2 hr. 27 min. Directed by Michael Maglaras. WATCH TRAILER

The screening will be immediately followed by a pre-recorded interview with the director.

Virtuoso filmmaking in a rare and beautiful hybrid…Cleophas and His Own holds the viewer spellbound from start to finish. —Peggy Parsons, Director of Film, National Gallery of Art

Hypnotic…this haunting film illuminates Hartley’s life and work with a nearly Bergman-like gravitas. —Victoria Dalkey, Sacramento Bee

…a penetrating performance of understated intensity…a passionately rendered ode… —Jason Gargano, CityBeat

Free for MFA members; or with admission for not-yet members


In Partnership with Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival


Support provided by the Art Bridges Foundation and the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission

Event Details

July 25, 2021

1–3:30 pm

Event Categories

Marly Room: Museum of Fine Arts

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