A Guardian article about a Welsh shepherd who works alone on his farm, has never left his valley and eats the same meal every day has been turned into a short documentary film which will premiere at Tribeca film festival.
Heart Valley, directed by Christian Cargill, beat more than 7,000 submissions to secure its place in the competition. It follows a day in the life of Wilf Davies, who was the centre of an article by Kiran Sidhu in the Guardian last year.
The article struck a chord with millions at the height of lockdown. Faced with a rapidly changing farming community, Wilf’s inquisitive attitude and connection to nature provoked big questions about what it is we should truly value, Cargill said.
“I think for a lot of people that spent lockdowns in cities, Wilf’s story really touched on that yearning to disconnect,” Cargill said. “I remember first reading the piece and finding it inspiring, unconventional and deeply heartfelt. Two weeks on, I realised I was still thinking about this shepherd I’d never met called Wilf and in that moment I knew it was a story I wanted to explore, to find out more about this man and his life.”
The London-based documentary film-maker and photographer, who has worked across productions for Netflix, HBO, Vice Studios and the BBC, said he was struck by Wilf’s sensibilities. “Of course there’re eccentricities about him – his routine of the same meals every day for example, but what I’ve loved and learnt from spending so much time with him making this film, is his quietly profound message to the world: be kind, have compassion and take some time out of each day to truly appreciate your surroundings and place.”
Original music for the film was composed by the Scottish multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper.
Sidhu said it was “both surprising and unsurprising that a story about a humble farmer spoke to so many. Surprising because, in so many ways, we are told that we need so many things in order to be content. And unsurprising because the pandemic shifted our value system; we questioned the quality of our lives.”
When Wilf found out the film would be going to New York, Sidhu added, he cried. (Guardian)