WRITER and director Clio Barnard follows up her award-winning second film The Selfish Giant with Dark River, a gritty portrait of a dysfunctional North Yorkshire family tearing itself apart.

Filmed in the Yorkshire Dales around Malham and Skipton with a cast led by Sean Bean, Ruth Wilson and Mark Stanley, it is showing at City Screen, York, this week.

Wilson plays Alice, who left home many years ago, emotionally scarred by her suffering at the hands of her abusive father (Bean). She earns a meagre crust with seasonal work on other farms, far from the devastation of her childhood, when, out of the blue, she receives news that her father has died and the family's farm is on the verge of financial ruin.

Her embittered brother Joe (Stanley) has shouldered the burden of caring for their father alone and he no longer has the energy to keep the farm trading.

York Press:

Mark Stanley as embittered farmer Joe in Dark River

Alice returns home for the first time in 15 years to claim solo tenancy of the farm she believes is rightfully hers, even if it is poor compensation for the pain inflicted by her father. Once there, however,she is confronted by her resentful brother, whom she barely recognizes. Worn down by all those years of trying to maintain the farm, he is naturally hostile to her arrival and her claim.

Their dispute unearths traumatic memories for Alice, ones that have remained dormant for years. Will brother and sister be able to move on after years of estrangement or will the events of the past forever shape their future as the siblings clash violently for control of their home?

Dark River (15) was filmed by Arrow Films in the Dales in 2016 with investment from Screen Yorkshire's Yorkshire Content Fund. Hugo Heppell, Screen Yorkshire's head of investments, says: "It’s been a privilege to work with Clio on Dark River, which firmly anchors her position as one of the UK’s pre-eminent filmmakers.

York Press:

Filming Dark River in North Yorkshire

"The challenging subject matter draws as much from the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales as it does from the intense performances of its lead cast. The result is a deeply affecting drama that deserves to be experienced on the big screen."

Barnard has established herself as one of the Britain's most distinctive cinematic voices, first with her award-winning 2010 debut The Arbor, a documentary about the late Bradford writer Andrea Dunbar. Next came The Selfish Giant, her 2013 feature film inspired by Oscar Wilde's short story, which follows two 13-year-old working-class friends in Bradford as they seek their fortune by becoming involved with a scrap dealer and criminal.

The best British film of the year award at the London Critics Circle Film Awards duly came Barnard's way. Now she has made Dark River, a Moonspun Films/Left Bank Pictures production, backed by Film4, Screen Yorkshire and the BFI with National Lottery funding.