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Film to tell story of Grays Court's battle to become a boutique hotel
A DOCUMENTARY film about a woman’s battle to turn York’s historic Grays Court into a boutique hotel as the world economy crashed is to be premiered at the City Screen cinema on Sunday.
Folie A Deux – Madness Made Of Two – is the result of five years of filming at the Grade I listed building near York Minster as Helen Heraty struggled against bankruptcy and through bitter disputes with neighbours.
Director Kim Hopkins said the film told a “quintessentially English tale with a universal message”.
She said it follows Helen, an “Alpha-female, love-her, hate-her-but-you-can’t-ignore-her mother-of-seven as she embarks on a costly dream to turn the crumbling national monument into England’s finest historic hotel”.
She said: “Suddenly the economic climate crashes, and free falls. The result is a knuckle-clenching, comical and oh so English, tale of our times.”
Kim revealed that the idea for the film was born after a chance meeting in a bar with Helen, who told her about her seven children, whirlwind romance and recent purchase of Gray’s Court.
“Filming started in late 2007,” she said.
“Everybody was ‘up-sizing’; house prices were going through the roof. I set out to make a film about the birth of a new woman entrepreneur balancing life, a very large family and huge career aspirations.
“Then the credit crunch hit and everything changed; nothing would ever be the same again.”
City of York Council took legal action last year against Grays Court, ordering it to halt weddings and other dining functions and also close the tearoom by 9pm on all but two nights a month.
However, The Press reported earlier this year that the action had been abandoned for the time being by the authority because of “technical issues”.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, whose screenplays include Slumdog Millionaire, has praised the film.
Mr Beaufoy said: “I think it’s a stunning commentary on the mess we’re in. Really powerful.”
Kim said the film would be premiered at 3pm on Sunday and shown again at 6.30pm on Monday.
She and Helen will hold question and answer sessions at both screenings.
She said the film would then be due for cinema release on October 4, before being broadcast on the BBC Storyville Strand at a later date.
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