Principal photography has commenced on Dark River, the third feature film from writer/director Clio Barnard (The Arbor, The Selfish Giant), starring Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Saving Mr Banks), Mark Stanley (Game of Thrones, Kajaki) and Sean Bean (The Martian, The Lord of The Rings).
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. The film is backed by Film4, the BFI Film Fund, Screen Yorkshire and the Wellcome Trust and was developed by Film4, the BFI and the Wellcome Trust. Protagonist Pictures is handling world sales. Shooting will take place on location in Yorkshire for five weeks.
Following the death of her father, Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns to her home village for the first time in 15 years, to claim the tenancy to the family farm she believes is rightfully hers. Once there she is confronted by a brother (Mark Stanley) she barely recognises, worn down by years of trying to keep the farm going, who is naturally hostile to her arrival and her claim over the tenancy. Their dispute unearths traumatic memories for Alice, memories which have remained dormant for years but which now threaten both of their futures.
Writer/director Clio 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 playwright Andrea Dunbar, as well as her sophomore feature The Selfish Giant. The latter film followed two scrappy 13-year-old working-class friends in Bradford seeking their fortune by getting involved with a local scrap dealer and criminal. The film was a huge critical success on its release, launching at Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes and winning the British Film of the Year at the London Critics Circle Film Awards along with a host of other festival awards.
Clio Barnard was the first recipient of the Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Fellowship, in partnership with BFI and Film4, in 2013. Dark River was developed during her year in residence at Wellcome when she had unparalleled access to experts in traumatic memory.
Dark River reunites many of Clio Barnard’s long-term collaborators including production designer Helen Scott (Fish Tank, Red Road, The Selfish Giant); casting director Amy Hubbard (The Lord of The Rings trilogy, Homeland, The Arbor) winner of a BIFA for her casting of The Selfish Giant; costume designer Matthew Price (Wild Bill, The Arbor, The Selfish Giant); Tim Barker (The Deep Blue Sea, Bronson) responsible for sound on both The Arbor and The Selfish Giant; and Nick Fenton (Submarine, The Double) responsible for editing both The Arbor and The Selfish Giant.
‘Dark River is a visceral, haunting and lyrical story and we’re delighted to have assembled our regular collaborators to help bring Clio’s beautifully crafted script to life and welcome DOP, Adriano Goldman to the team. Ruth Wilson and Mark Stanley’s fearless commitment to the roles of siblings Alice and Joe leading up to the shoot is exciting to behold’ says producer Tracy O’Riordan.