Oswestry is a town shaped by agriculture, stand at the top of the hillfort and it seems farmland surrounds you in every direction. It’s a huge part of British life, and yet for a massive industry it isn’t often represented on film. Redressing that imbalance lately are three British films that convey the hard work, stresses and otherness of farming life.
Last year’s Yorkshire set God’s Own Country was the moving tale of a young farmer unable to express his feelings for the immigrant farmhand brought in to help with lambing. Its explicitness isn’t for everyone and I’d recommend researching it before watching. The countryside scenery shown may often look beautiful, but also looks bleak, unforgiving and cold, it certainly doesn’t look like a lifestyle to envy. If your tastes run more to heartwarming fare, then the 2015 documentary Addicted To Sheep will be just your thing. Following a year in the life of a hill farming couple, it also pulls no punches in showing the drudgery and grind of life on a farm, but it also shows the joys, the moments that most of us never get to see, and the sense of togetherness that can bind rural communities together.
British director Hope Dickson Leach filmed her recent debut, The Levelling, in Somerset. It tells the story of a young woman, Clover, returning to the farm she grew up in after her brother’s untimely death. It is set just after the devastating floods of 2014 and Leach said she wanted a situation where Clover’s challenges, both practical and emotional, were mirrored by problems larger than the family environment, a flooded landscape offering an ideal setting for such a situation. It looks like a great addition to a growing collection of British films, keen on exploring rural life.
Gods Own Country (18) and Addicted to Sheep (PG) are available on DVD and on demand now. The Levelling (15) is screened by Oswestry Film Society at Kinokulture Cinema on February 20th.
From our weekly column in the Oswestry Advertizer, published on 6th February 2018.