Dark River

Clio Barnard directs ‘Dark River’, made with investment from the Yorkshire Content Fund

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A Film By Clio Barnard

Dark River is the third feature film from writer / director Clio Barnard, who grew up in Otley and studied in Leeds, before establishing herself as one of the UK’s most distinctive cinematic voices in recent years.

The intense drama, starring Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean, is a moving tale of family secrets, filmed against the atmospheric landscapes around Skipton and Malham in 2016 with investment from Screen Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Content Fund.

Written and directed by Barnard (The Arbor, The Selfish Giant), this moving tale of family secrets stars Ruth Wilson (“The Affair”, Saving Mr Banks), Mark Stanley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, “Game of Thrones”) and Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, GoldenEye). ‘Dark River’ is produced by Clio Barnard’s long-term producer Tracy O’Riordan (The Arbor, The Selfish Giant) of Moonspun Films with Left Bank Pictures’ Lila Rawlings, Andy Harries and Suzanne Mackie executive producing. Further executive producers are Lizzie Francke, Rose Garnett, Polly Stokes, Hugo Heppell and Meroë Candy.

It’s been a privilege to work with Clio on ‘Dark River’, which firmly anchors her position as one of the UK’s pre-eminent filmmakers. The challenging subject matter draws as much from the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales as it does from the intense performances of its lead cast. The result is a deeply affecting drama that deserves to be experienced on the big screen.

Says Hugo Heppell, Head of Investments at Screen Yorkshire.

Following the death of her father, Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns to her hometown for the first time in 15 years, to claim the family farm she believes is rightfully hers. Once there she is confronted by a brother (Mark Stanley) whom she barely recognizes. Worn down by years of trying to keep the farm going, he is naturally hostile to her arrival and her claim. Their dispute unearths traumatic memories for Alice, ones which have remained dormant for years. Will brother and sister be able to move on or will the events of the past forever shape their future?

'Dark River' © Moonspun Films/Left Bank Pictures

Barnard has established herself as one of the UK’s most distinctive cinematic voices following rave reviews and awards for her feature-length debut The Arbor, a documentary about the late Bradford poet Andrea Dunbar, as well as her sophomore feature The Selfish Giant. The latter film followed two 13-year-old working-class friends in Bradford seeking fortune by getting involved with a local scrap dealer and criminal. The film was a critical darling on its release, winning the best British film of the year at the London Critics Circle Film Awards and a number of other festival awards. IFC Films/Sundance Selects released it in the United States.

Dark River is a Moonspun Films/Left Bank Pictures production, backed by Film4, BFI (with National Lottery funding) and Screen Yorkshire. It was developed by Film4, the BFI and the Wellcome TrustProtagonist Pictures is handling worldwide and domestic rights to the film and Arrow Films is distributing ‘Dark River’ in the UK.