Press release

Ming of Harlem: Wellcome Trust-supported film to open new Artist Cinema programme at Tate

Tate Film will present the UK premiere of 'Ming of Harlem: Twenty One Storeys in the Air' as part of a new programme, Artist Cinema, on Wednesday 18 February, at 18.30. The first in a new strand of monthly artists' film premieres at Tate Modern, this fascinating debut feature-length film by British director Phillip Warnell tells the real-life story of Antoine Yates, who kept a tiger called Ming and a large alligator in his high-rise New York apartment for several years.

Supported by an Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust, 'Ming of Harlem' investigates the philosophical questions posed by cohabitation with animals. In order to re-create Yates's absurdly cramped living conditions, much of the film was shot under controlled conditions in a British zoo. The film has garnered much critical acclaim, having won the Georges Beauregard International Prize at the International Film Festival Marseille in 2014.

Andrea Lissoni, Curator of Film and International Art, Tate Modern, said: "Perfectly incarnating the typology of an artist's film, 'Ming of Harlem' opens the new strand of Artist Cinema at Tate Modern. The film bridges the fields of philosophy, ethology and sociology, producing knowledge across several disciplinary areas and questioning the status of reality and fiction. In doing so, it anticipates the kind of films that Tate Film will be presenting throughout the upcoming years."

Philip Warnell is a filmmaker, artist and academic based in London. His cinematic work explores a range of philosophical ideas, such as human-animal relations and the poetics of the body and its dimensionality. 'Ming of Harlem' is Warnell's second collaboration with philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, who provides a voiceover for the film, exploring the interplay between film, politics and notions of sense.

The evening will begin with a screening of Warnell's first collaboration with Nancy, the short film 'Outlandish: Strange and Foreign Bodies' (2009), also supported by the Wellcome Trust. The screenings will be followed by a live Q&A with Phillip Warnell and Jean-Pierre Rehm, Director of the FIDMarseille – International Film Festival Marseille.

Lily Davies, Arts Advisor at the Wellcome Trust, said: "We're delighted that 'Ming of Harlem' and 'Outlandish' are to be the first works shown as part of the new Artist Cinema programme at Tate. Philip's films take a fascinating look at human-animal relationships and philosophical ideas of bodies and space, as well as being stunning works of art."

More details and ticket information can be found on the Tate Modern website.