Clio Barnard's Dark River starts shooting


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 5 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.

Ruth Wilson’s career has been on the rise since her role as Alice Morgan in the psychological crime drama Luther. Since then, she has appeared in Anna Karenina, Suite Francaise, Saving Mr Banks opposite Tom Hanks, and in Locke as the voice of Katrina. A two-time Olivier Award winner for her theatre work in A Streetcar Named Desire and Anna Christie, Ruth was BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated for her role in the mini-series Jane Eyre and was awarded a Golden Globe for her role in the TV series The Affair. Ruth’s upcoming films include Osgood Perkins’ I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House and John Cameron Mitchell’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties opposite Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning.

Mark Stanley’s film credits include Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mr. Turner. His well-received performances in TV projects include his portrayal of Grenn in Game of Thrones and Bill Sikes in Dickensian. His breakthrough role came in Paul Katis’ Kajaki (released as Kilo Two Bravo in the US).

Sean Bean’s 20 year career spans films, television, theatre and radio. His most prominent film roles include Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Alec Trevelyan in the James Bond film GoldenEye and Odysseus in Troy, as well as roles in Patriot Games, Ronin, National Treasure, North Country, The Island, Silent Hill, Black Death, Jupiter Ascending and The Martian. His TV performances include the portrayal of Richard Sharpe in the series Sharpe, the role of Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, and his Emmy-winning performance in Accused.

‘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.

Moonspun Films

Moonspun Films was established in 2009 by UK based producer Tracy O’Riordan. Prior to this Tracy worked as a drama development executive and story editor before moving into physical production in 2002 - credits include Stephan Frears multi-award winning; The Queen and the acclaimed Of Time and the City by Terence Davies.

In 2009 Tracy produced The Arbor, for Artangel, the first feature directed by Clio Barnard, which won 6 national and 3 international awards and was nominated for a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut. This lead Tracy to establish Moonspun Films, producing The Selfish Giant; the second Clio Barnard feature in 2012. The Selfish Giant was selected for Director’s Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival 2013 and was nominated for a BAFTA for Outstanding British Film.

In 2014 Tracy joined Passion Pictures to set up a drama slate in association with Moonspun Films, whilst continuing her collaboration with Clio on her 3rd feature; Dark River, which is currently shooting in Yorkshire, with Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley and Sean Bean starring.

Left Bank Pictures

Left Bank Pictures is a multi-award-winning film and television production company set up by Chief Executive Andy Harries and Managing Director Marigo Kehoe. Since 2007, Left Bank has built up a creative team with a wealth of experience in British filmmaking and broadcasting. Left Bank was named ‘Best Independent Production Company’ at the Broadcast Awards in 2011 and, in 2012, Sony Pictures Entertainment took a majority stake in the company signalling a significant move into scripted production for Sony in the UK.

Left Bank is the first UK production company to win a major original series commission for Netflix. The Crown, written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Daldry, stars Claire Foy, Matt Smith and John Lithgow and will launch on Netflix in November 2016.

Left Bank Pictures has produced major drama series for the BBC, WGBH, ITV1, Sky1 HD, and HBO, Cinemax (including Wallander, DCI Banks, Strike Back and Mad Dogs), comedy series for Channel 4 and E4 (including Cardinal Burns and School of Comedy) and motion pictures for Sony Pictures, Europacorp and Optimum Releasing (including Damned United). Left Bank's portfolio of films and television series have been recognised by the Golden Globes, Emmy’s, Academy Awards, BAFTA and the Royal Television Society. Working with the UK’s leading writing, directing and on-screen talent to produce bold, innovative feature films, television dramas and cutting edge comedy, Left Bank Pictures prides itself on championing exciting new talent set to create the hits of tomorrow.


Film4 is Channel 4 Television’s feature film division, which develops and co-finances films and has an established track record for working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in UK and international filmmaking. Film4 has developed and/or co-financed many of the most successful UK films of recent years - Academy Award-winners such as Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Asif Kapadia’s Amy and Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, Todd Haynes’ Carol, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, Shane Meadows’ This is England, Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths, Yann Demange’s 71, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and David Mackenzie’s Starred Up.


With over £50 million of Lottery funding to invest each year, the BFI is the UK's largest public investor in film, and the BFI Film Fund supports first-class British filmmaking from talent and project development, through production, to audience development across exhibition, distribution and international sales.

Highly anticipated films backed by the BFI include this year’s Cannes Film Festival Palme d’or winner I, Daniel Blake directed by Ken Loach and the Jury Prize award winning American Honey by filmmaker Andrea Arnold; John Michael McDonagh's War On Everyone which premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival; James Spinney and Peter Middleton’s Notes on Blindness, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House; Colm McCarthy’s The Girl With All The Gifts; Mercedes Grower’s Brakes; and Pete Travis’ City of Tiny Lights.

Films supported by the BFI include Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston; Sarah Gavron’s critical and box office hit, Suffragette; John Crowley’s BAFTA-winning and Oscar® nominated Brooklyn; Sean McAllister's A Syrian Love Story, BAFTA-nominated and Grand Jury prize winner at Sheffield Doc/Fest; Yorgos Lanthimos’ BAFTA-nominated The Lobster which premiered In Competition at Cannes 2015; Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years which won Silver Bear awards for Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay at the Berlin Film Festival and went on to be BAFTA and Oscar® nominated.

The BFI is the lead organisation for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:

  • Connecting audiences to the widest choice of British and World cinema
  • Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations
  • Championing emerging and world class film makers in the UK - investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work
  • Promoting British film and talent to the world
  • Growing the next generation of film makers and audiences / @bfi

Screen Yorkshire

Screen Yorkshire offers production financing for content in the TV, film, videogames and the digital sectors in Yorkshire and Humber, through the Yorkshire Content Fund, the biggest regional investment fund for production in the UK. Backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the fund is open to content producers working in film, TV, games and digital based in Yorkshire or from outside but looking to establish a base in the region. It has attracted £15m from ERDF as part of Europe's support for the region's economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme 2007-13. Investments include: Dad's Army, Journeyman, Swallows & Amazons, How To Talk To Girls At Parties, The Hunter's Prayer, A Royal Night Out, The Railway Children (York Theatre Royal), Peaky Blinders, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Testament Of Youth, The Great Train Robbery, Get Santa, X + Y, Death Comes to Pemberley, Catch me Daddy, '71, Black Work and Bill.

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. They support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine.

As part of its strategy for engaging audiences, Wellcome runs a programme of activities which connect writers and filmmakers with biomedical science and humanities research to inspire future stories which explore the human condition. Other recent films and television supported by Wellcome include Paddy Considine’s Journeyman, Rachel Tunnard’s Adult Life Skills, James Wood’s Quacks, Bryn Higgin’s Electricity and Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton’s Biophilia Live.

Protagonist Pictures

Protagonist Pictures is an international finance, production and sales company which has a proven track record in outstanding films and commercial successes. Based in the UK, the company handles films from around the world, always maintaining a strong focus on filmmakers with exceptional vision and storytelling skills.

Protagonist’s current slate includes Andrea Arnold’s Cannes Jury Prize winner American Honey, Rebecca Miller’s acclaimed comedy Maggie’s Plan, Whit Stillman’s Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship, Taika Waititi’s Sundance charmer Hunt For The Wilderpeople, and Joshua Marston’s Rachel Weisz-starrer Complete Unknown. In post production are Oren Moverman’s The Dinner, Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire and also Charlie McDowell’s The Discovery, a gripping sic-fi love story starring Robert Redford, Rooney Mara and Jason Segel.

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