Picture: Phil Collins
Film Still from Ceremony: The Return of Friedrich Engels by Phil Collins
Picture: Phil Collins
Picture: Joel Fildes
Ceremony: The Return of Friedrich Engels by Phil Collins
Picture: Joel Fildes
Picture: Phil Collins
Film Still from Ceremony: The Return of Friedrich Engels by Phil Collins
Picture: Phil Collins
Logo of the Hebbel am Ufer

Phil Collins

Ceremony: The Return of Friedrich Engels

UK 2017, 60 min.

Part of "MARX200: Politics – Theory – Socialism"

The Russian Revolution took place in 1917, in a country exhausted by the First World War. The event shaped the political landscape of the 20th century. But it was in Manchester—the world’s first industrial city—not in Imperial Russia that the idea of communism was born. Friedrich Engels, co-founder of communist theory with his friend Karl Marx, lived in Manchester for more than 20 years. His seminal work The Condition of the Working Class in England is a searing indictment of early capitalism’s ruthlessness and exploitation based on his observations of Manchester’s slums, child labour, environmental devastation, and the indignity of workers’ lives.

The award-winning artist Phil Collins returns to HAU Hebbel am Ufer with the German premiere of his film "Ceremony". Last summer he returned Engels home to Manchester, in the form of a decommissioned Soviet-era statue which he brought from Ukraine and inaugurated in the city centre as a permanent monument. Over the course of a year, Collins collaborated with local organisations, activists and communities to explore Engels’ legacy in austerity Britain and the lives of workers today. Collins describes Ceremony as ‘the search for a statue of Engels and its long journey, the everyday stories of people from Manchester, and a homecoming party to inaugurate the statue’.

At the inauguration a crowd of thousands gathered to take part in a live event which included short films, scripted performances, a  soundtrack by Demdike Stare and Mica Levi, a new workers’ anthem by Gruff Rhys, and Engels Exchange — a one-day transformation of the ‘privately owned public space’ into a realm of shared ideas, experience and the kind of good time which Engels loved. 

A film interweaving different strands of the project was broadcast on the BBC as part of a season marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution. In harrowing times for so many Engels’ insights correlate to our contemporary situation with an alarming accuracy, making it crucial more than ever to remember the spirit of solidarity and dignity which beat at the heart of his work. 

Phil Collins: why I took a Soviet statue of Engels across Europe to Manchester

Past dates
May 2018
English with German subtitles
60 min
Written and directed
Phil Collins
Voice of Engels
Maxine Peake
Channelle Baugh, Nadia Everett, Sharon Henry, Rosemaria Flynnie, Judy Vickers, Julie Boyle, Bethany Goulding, Borhan Mohammadi, Mark O’Pray, Melissa Booth, Roy Booth, Dave Roberts, Vickie Cooper, David Whyte, Reiner Rhefus
"Ceremony" Performers
Carla Henry, Sharon Smith, Simon Will, Susanne Sachsse, Sanja Mitrović, Lianne Sommers, Reece Fox, Caitlin Harkin, Ayoub Mouthadi, Omayma Mouthadi, Ryan Scholes
Steadicam Operators
Rob Beck, Ivan Hinchley
Drone Operators
Andreas Dalström, Gregory Chivers
Chris Rodgers
Online Editor
Laurence Thripp
Dubbing Mixer
Nas Parkash
Production Assistant
Ale Bachlechner
Executive Producer für BBC
Emma Cahusac
Live Music Recording
Demdike Stare and Mica Levi
David Charap
Siniša Mitrović, Natasha Dack Ojumu
‘Communism’s Coming Home’ Written and Performed
Gruff Rhys
Backing Singers
Cate Le Bon, Jane Weaver, Una Baines
Kliph Spurlock
Co-commissioned by Manchester International Festival, HOME, Manchester, 14-18 NOW and the BBC. Produced by Manchester International Festival, HOME, Manchester, Shady Lane Productions and Tigerlily Productions. Supported by Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence, the Henry Moore Foundation and My Festival Circle.