09 October 2015
A ground-breaking film interpretation of Dylan Thomas' classic play Under Milk Wood will be the UK's submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Oscars.
Dan y Wenallt, produced by award-winning film and TV production company, fFatti fFilms and directed by Kevin Allen, has been chosen by BAFTA as the UK's submission for the 2016 Academy Awards.
Starring Rhys Ifans and Charlotte Church alongside an impressive ensemble cast, Dan y Wenallt was shown in theatres and cinemas throughout Wales in December last, and the film was also the centrepiece of S4C's centenary celebrations of poet Dylan Thomas's birth in 2014. The English version 'Under Milk Wood' releases in cinemas across the UK on 30 October to mark the close of Thomas' centenary.
A partnership between fFatti fFilms, Tinopolis, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Goldfinch Enterprise and S4C, the film was produced back-to-back in Welsh and English language, available independently or as companion pieces through international sales agent, Metro.
A visually striking, surreal and erotic interpretation of the famous radio play, this is the first film adaptation of Under Milk Wood since the iconic 1972 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The Welsh-language version of Thomas' text was translated and adapted by the award-winning poet and author T. James Jones.
A unique fusion of classic poetry and prose, Dan y Wenallt opens at nightfall, and through blind Captain Cat (Rhys Ifans), the narration guides us through the village of Llareggub's deepest and most exotic dreams.
The production saw the mercurial talents of director Allen and Ifans working together for the first time since Allen's debut cult 1996 film Twin Town.
Kevin Allen, creative director of fFatti fFilms said; "I'm absolutely thrilled to have Dan y Wenallt submitted as the official UK contender for a foreign language Oscar shortlist. It's a shot in the arm for both versions of our back-to-back Under Milk Wood productions, and I'd like to thank BAFTA for selecting us."
Ian Jones, S4C's Chief Executive said; "We are extremely proud of this submission and are grateful to BAFTA for showing faith in an audacious, inspirational interpretation of this great classic. By working closely with companies and organisations at the vanguard of Wales' creative industries, we have been able to offer an unforgettable journey into Dylan Thomas' rich world of words and imagery. Through this thrilling adaptation, one of Wales' iconic modern cultural figures will once again help draw the spotlight on the world stage."
Kirsty Bell, MD of Goldfinch Entertainment said; "We are very proud of Under Milk Wood and the team behind it. We knew from when we first saw the project and talent involved that this would be something very special and we are so pleased that it has achieved the recognition it deserves. This was one of our early Goldfinch projects and it shows that our focus on quality projects from proven producers, structured and financed in a simple and transparent way can be a success both artistically and financially."
Pauline Burt, of the national film body Ffilm Cymru Wales, explained that "Wales has a strong and rapidly growing pool of talent. Kevin has applied his particular, distinctive voice to re-imagine an already evocative work and bring it to new audiences in exciting ways."
Ron Jones, Executive Chairman of Tinopolis Group said; "Under Milk Wood is so well known and so little understood. Kevin's genius was to get into the mind of the poet and produce the first film version to match in images to what Dylan Thomas was saying. The richness of the production, the haunting music and brilliant translation by Jim Jones deserve congratulations. It's a memorable piece of cinema."
Individual countries can submit one foreign language film each for the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
The submissions will be short-listed to nine in December, with the final five nominees announced in January 2016, a few weeks before the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles on 28 February.
Two previous S4C Foreign Language Film submissions have led to American Academy nominations, Hedd Wyn in 1994 and Solomon a Gaenor in 2000.