An award-winning film ‘Staying (Aros Mae)’, which was filmed in the Elan and Claerwen Valleys, near Rhayader in 2019, will be screened on BBC 2 Wales tomorrow (Thursday) at 11.35pm.
Written and directed by previous Elan Valley artist-in-residence Zillah Bowes, the film features members of the community as cast, including Stephen and Kerena Pugh who were chosen to play farmer Huw and his wife Megan.
The short fiction film is about Ruth, played by actor and 9Bach singer Lisa Jên Brown, a newly divorced gallery manager selling her city home, who sees a video of a sheepdog for sale and visits Huw and Megan in the hills.
The film captures a way of life in the Valley, where neighbouring farmers come together to gather sheep on horseback and quad bikes in the remote and beautiful landscape.
Most of the filming took place at Marchnant Farm, managed by farmer Steven Lewis and his partner Chris. Their sheepdog Mick is a star of the film, which was screened for local people at The Lion Royal Hotel, Rhayader in August.
Zillah lived in the Elan Valley for a year before shooting the film and got to know the tenant farmers and their way of life, while working on her long-term photography project Green Dark. She also spent time getting to know farmer Stephen Pugh and his wife Kerena to prepare them for the roles as Huw and Megan.
Stephen and Kerena, who live in Nantmel where they farm and run Lȏn Lodges tourism business, were introduced to her by one of the film’s three executive producers, Peter Cox, who lives near Rhayader.
“Zillah wanted to capture life today in the Valley as authentically as possible,” said Stephen. “So much research went into the film and the onus was on us to do justice to the Valley farmers.
“Credit goes to Steven and Chris Lewis because they gave up so much of their time.”
‘Staying (Aros Mae)’ has received widespread international recognition, winning awards at BAFTA and BIFA-qualifying film festivals including Grand Jury Prize at Premiers Plan Angers Film Festival and Special Mention at Encounters Film Festival.
The film was produced by Jack Thomas-O’Brien at Sixteen Films in conjunction with Ffilm Cymru Wales, BFI NETWORK Wales and BBC Cymru Wales.
Watch the film at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001g07p . There is also a short interview with Zillah at: http://www.ffilmcymruwales.com/news-and-events/meet-beacons-makers-zillah-bowes .
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