Screening of the film Powys to thank the community who contributed to its realization

An award-winning film shot in the Elan and Claerwen Valleys was screened in Powys last weekend to thank the community who helped make it happen.

“Staying (Aros Mae)” was screened at the Lion Royal Hotel in Rhayader last Saturday night, August 13.

Filmed in 2019, Aros Mae is written and directed by former Elan Valley Artist-in-Residence Zillah Bowes and even features local community members among the cast, including Stephen and Kerena Pugh who were cast as Farmer Huw. and his wife Megan.

The fictional short is about Ruth, played by actress and 9Bach singer Lisa Jên Brown, a newly divorced gallery manager selling her townhouse, 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 neighboring farmers come together to herd sheep on horseback and quad bikes amidst a remote and beautiful landscape.

Most of the filming took place at Marchnant Farm, run by farmer Steven Lewis and his partner Chris. Their sheepdog Mick is a movie star.

Zillah lived in the Elan Valley for a year before shooting the film and got to know the sharecroppers and their way of life, while working on his long-term photography project Green Dark. She also spent time getting to know Farmer Stephen and his wife Kerena to prepare them for the roles of Huw and Megan.

Stephen and Kerena, who live in Nantmel where they grow and run their tourism business Lȏn Lodges, were introduced to Zillah by one of the film’s three executive producers, Peter Cox, who also lives near Rhayader and is involved in the arts. locally.

Kerena has a strong acting pedigree, having previously starred in Rhayader Young Farmers productions. And she and her husband had a role in the Rhayader Community Play written by Peter.

“We spent six months getting to know Zillah and understanding the story,” Kerena said.

“Our characters in the film were fictional and we had to take on the roles of Huw and Megan working as a farming couple.

“This film is very atmospheric because Zillah wanted to capture the feeling and essential qualities of daily life in the valley.

“We were involved in four days of filming and had never done anything like this before. We enjoyed the experience and it was quite a privilege to be invited to work with such accomplished professionals as Jack Thomas O’Brien of Sixteen Films and cinematographer Robbie Ryan, to name a few of the incredible team.

“Zillah gave a lovely speech thanking the community ahead of the film’s screening on Saturday. It has been screened around the world and screened at over 15 film festivals.

Ruth, played by actress and singer of 9Bach Lisa Jên Brown

Stephen added: “Zillah wanted to capture today’s life in the valley in the most authentic way possible. So much research went into the film and it was up to us to do justice to the farmers of the valley.

“The credit goes to Steven and Chris Lewis because they gave so much of their time.”

“Aros Mae” has received wide international recognition, winning awards at BAFTA and BIFA qualifying film festivals, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Premiers Plan Film Festival in Angers and receiving a Special Mention at the Film Festival Encounters.

The jury commented: “The jury would also like to give a special mention to “Staying (Aros Mae)” by Zillah Bowes for the sensitivity and complexity of its storytelling.

“Bowes immerses us in the quiet, idyllic world of Mid Wales, a world devoid of stereotypical heroes or villains and populated by three-dimensional characters, all facing their own particular inner struggles and repressions.

“Bowes’ empathy for his characters is evident in his use of image and sound to weave a naturalistic cinematic tapestry that suspends judgment and instead encourages exploration and questioning.

“While its scenes set in Cardiff seem cool and clinical, the campaign opens up both the perspective of the film and the emotions of its central character – played captivatingly by Welsh actress and 9Bach singer Lisa Jên Brown – traveling to find a Border Collie in the aftermath of a breakup.

“At times approaching a western, the film uses the landscape in a deep and evocative way.”

The film was produced by O’Brien at Sixteen Films in collaboration with Ffilm Cymru Wales, BFI NETWORK Wales and BBC Cymru Wales, and is due to air on BBC Wales later this year, and will be available on iPlayer thereafter.