Chilling Swedish drama unveiled as headline event at rural Yorkshire film festival

Midsommar, a chilling Swedish drama about a pastoral idyll that descends into unspeakable pagan horrors, has been unveiled as the headline event at a festival in rural Yorkshire.
Midsommar, a chilling Swedish drama about a pastoral idyll that descends into unspeakable pagan horrors, has been unveiled as the headline event at a festival in rural Yorkshire.
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It has been called the most horrifying and disturbing film of the year, with a labyrinthine plot and an ending no-one could have predicted.

But none of the twists in its tale is as surprising as the revelation of its next engagement.

The Hinterlands Film Festival.

The Hinterlands Film Festival.

Midsommar, a chilling Swedish drama about a pastoral idyll that descends into unspeakable pagan horrors, has been unveiled as the headline event at a festival in rural Yorkshire.

Skipton, self-styled gateway to the Dales, will not only screen the film but also recreate part of it, by mounting a ritualistic parade to the Plaza Cinema from the picturesque canal basin that dissects the town centre.

It was not, acknowledged Rowan Hoban, one of the organisers, the type of entertainment for which the place was noted. But that was the point.

The first outing in May of Hinterlands, a three-day celebration of rural film conceived out of a need to attract more young people to the Dales, put a characteristically Yorkshire spin on the proceedings by programming the beloved 1970 drama, Kes, as a main attraction.

Sarah Bird, pictured left, and Rowan Hoban, Directors of Wild Rumpus.

Sarah Bird, pictured left, and Rowan Hoban, Directors of Wild Rumpus.

The rerun, next spring, will take a darker turn.

Midsommar is itself set during a rural festival and contains scenes of extreme violence and hallucinogenic drug taking among the attendees.

Released earlier this year to critical acclaim, it is said to have been influenced by The Wicker Man, the cult 1973 British horror film in which Edward Woodward plays a police sergeant sent to a Scottish island in search of a missing girl, only to fall victim to a lunatic harvest cult.

“I thought Midsommar was incredibly beautiful. But it’s certainly dark and ritualistic,” said Ms Hoban, a director of the arts organisation Wild Rumpus, which programmes the festival.

Audience members will not be encouraged to mimic the drug taking in the film, let alone the violence, but they will be invited to turn up in similarly distinctive white, floral costumes.

“Among the pagan rituals is the crowning of a May queen, and that’s what we’ll be doing in the town centre,” Ms Hoban said.

“We will choose our own queen and parade her through the streets to the Plaza, where the film will screen.”

A “dress rehearsal” will take place in Skipton on Sunday, with members of the festival team selling passes for all the screenings and operating a stall at the Christmas market with a “dressing-up box” of suitable costumes.

Ms Hoban said that the response to the first festival had demonstrated that there was an appetite for such entertainment in Skipton.

“We put on some quite strange films in unusual places and we were blown away by the number of people who not only came but embraced the idea wholeheartedly,” she said.

“It was also lovely to see so many people who had come from outside Skipton and who loved the Plaza Cinema.”

The fashion for not only watching films but taking part in them will also extend to a festival screening of The Sound of Music, with on-screen lyrics so that everyone can try their hand singing along.

A performance of Dead Poets Society, the 1989 Robin Williams drama set in a boarding school – will take place in the appropriate surroundings of Ermysted’s Grammar, half a mile from the centre of Skipton.