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Addicted to Sheep film to be premiered at top documentary festival

Addicted to Sheep, a film shot in Upper Teesdale, is to be seen by top industry experts at Sheffield Doc/Fest

A scene from Addicted to Sheep
A scene from Addicted to Sheep

A North East film about a Pennines sheep-farming family is to get its official world premiere at a top festival for documentaries.

Addicted to Sheep, directed by Magali Pettier of Provenance Films, got a rousing reception before an invited audience – including those who appear in the film – at Durham’s Gala Theatre earlier in the year.

But industry professionals from Britain and overseas will be present when the 85-minute feature is shown at the 22nd Sheffield Doc/Fest in June.

Doc/Fest is regarded as the UK’s premier documentary and digital media festival. The inclusion in the programme of Addicted to Sheep is being seen as an accolade by its French director/producer and co-producer Jan Cawood.

Film-maker Magali Pettier
Film-maker Magali Pettier

In 2011 the festival endorsed the idea for the largely crowd-funded film which took five years to reach the screen.

The film focuses on the hard-working and invariably cheerful Hutchinson family – Tom, Kay and their three children – who farm pedigree Swaledale sheep in Upper Teesdale as tenants on the Raby Estate in County Durham.

As the title of the film suggests, they love their sheep – even if the sheep appear to go out of their way to make the Hutchinsons’ lives as difficult as possible.

Magali Pettier, who grew up on a farm in Brittany, said: “Farming often runs in the blood but as we don’t have tenant farming in France, I wondered why would anyone opt in to this way of life for such little financial return?

“My initial quest revealed that for some, despite the difficulties, upland farming is not only attractive but compulsive – hence the film’s title.”

She added: “When I first started filming the Hutchinson family it was a leap of faith, just me and my camera, which allowed me to observe and capture the everyday realities of farming up close.”

Jan Cawood, of Tin Man Films, said: “Addicted to Sheep has been a labour of love for our small team and having our world premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest is a great launchpad. With over 3,000 worldwide industry delegates and 26,000 people from the UK, it allows more people to see and talk about our film at the start of what we hope will be a long and successful journey.”

Addicted to Sheep has already been endorsed by award-winning documentary maker Patrick Collerton who called it “a beautiful, timeless, unhurried, affectionate film”.

To celebrate their Doc/Fest selection, Magali and Jan are offering a pair of tickets for the screening on June 6 at 12.30pm at the Sheffield Showroom. To be in with a chance of winning them, email hello@provenancefilms.com quoting ‘Sheffield ticket draw’. The draw will be made on May 22.

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