Culture

Abertoir: homecoming premiere for Welsh language horror film

31 Oct 2021 3 minutes Read
Annes Elwy in Gwledd / The Feast

An award-winning Welsh language horror film which is gaining critical momentum will open the Abertoir Horror Festival in Aberystwyth next week.

Gwledd / The Feast is directed by Lee Haven Jones, written by Roger Williams and funded by Ffilm Cymru, and features a cast of Welsh stars, including Nia Roberts, Annes Elwy, Sion Alun Davies, Steffan Cennydd, Julian Lewis Jones and Rhodri Meilir.

Filmed in Welsh with English subtitles, the film unfolds over the course of one evening as a wealthy family gathers for a sumptuous dinner in their ostentatious house in the Welsh mountains.

The guests are a local businessman and a neighbouring farmer, and the intent is to secure a business deal to mine in the surrounding countryside.

When a mysterious young woman arrives to be their waitress for the evening, the family’s beliefs and values are challenged as her quiet, yet disturbing presence begins to unravel their lives, slowly, deliberately and with the most terrifying consequences.

Premiere

Gwledd / The Feast made its world premiere as a Midnighters entry at the South by Southwest festival (SXSW) in March 2021 and caught the attention of audiences and critics in the US and beyond.

Gathering awards and acclaim, it has gone on to be shown at film festivals around the world including Fantasia in Canada, BiFan in South Korea, and Motel X in Portugal, where it won the Méliès d´argent award for Best European Fantastic Feature Film.

This week the film’s writer and producer Roger Williams, who produces through production company Joio, tweeted his congratulations to the cinematographer Bjorn Bratberg for scooping an award at Knoxville Horror Fest.

Atmospheric

Director Lee Haven-Jones won the best director award for the Welsh language horror movie, and he was also shortlisted, but just pipped to the post, for the prestigious IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI.

The £50,000 bursary which is the most significant of its kind in the UK film industry and is establishing itself as an indicator of future filmmaking talent.

Jessica Kiang of Variety had enjoyed “the chilly control of Jones’ filmmaking”, which, according to her, was “enhanced by the pristine, deadened soundscape”. She also found “Samuel Sim’s atmospheric score, keeps our attention squirming on the hook”.

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter had praised the film’s visuals, calling them “elegantly creepy”. He also liked the “splashes of gore and the novelty of Welsh-language horror should hold the attention of genre lovers”.

The film goes on general release in the US in November, but the Welsh premiere at Abertoir will be its only UK screening outside of London Film Festival. It will finally be released in Wales, where many will be able to watch it without resorting to subtitles, on 10 June 2022.

The film was produced through Ffilm Cymru’s Cinematic initiative which is supported by S4C and the BFI (using funds from the National Lottery), Fields Park and Great Point Media in association with Melville Media.

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