Film about lone Welsh farmer wins place at New York festival

A day-in-the-life documentary about a 73-year-old Welsh sheep farmer has beaten more than 7,000 films to win a coveted place at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

The film, Heart Valley, features Wilf Davies, whose story first came to light in an article in The Guardian newspaper.

Mr Davies revealed that he works alone and has only once left the valley in Cellan, Ceredigion, where he runs a flock of 70 sheep. He has no telephone and no internet, and eats the same evening meal of fish, baked beans, onions and a fried egg every day, even on Christmas Day.  

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Mr Davies told the newspaper: “I have a routine, just like nature. That extends to what I eat.” 

He was once offered the chance to work on an oil rig, but turned it down. “My heart belongs here with the birds and the trees,” he said. “I knew if I left I’d be thinking about my valley the whole time, so what would be the point? All I want is right here.”

It was his devotion to a simple way of life and care for his sheep flock that struck a chord with filmmaker Christian Cargill.

Covid release

Mr Cargill also felt that a film would resonate with people who had experienced claustrophobia during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“When we were trapped in cities in our flats, everyone was desperate to leave and have space. Wilf Davies fully achieves that every single day and really appreciates that,” Mr Cargill said.

Man wearing wet-weather gear looks up into rain

© Christian Cargill

“[Mr Davies] feels so much gratitude to life that he gets to be out in a field every single day, whatever the weather. I think that really relates to people that have struggled and felt trapped and claustrophobic over the past two years.” 

Mr Cargill said the sheep farmer was flattered that the film had been chosen for the festival.

“I think he’s touched that people are interested in his life and I hope the film acts as a legacy of this wonderful person.” 

The Tribeca Film Festival was co-founded by Robert De Niro in 2002 and this year runs from 8 to 19 June.