Banbury-born After Life actor Tim Plester's 'dream job' movie gets its British premiere in London next month
Plester, who was educated at Drayton School (now North Oxfordshire Academy), was prevented from attending the film's official world premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival a year ago because of Covid travel restrictions.
The film was screened to a sell-out audience at a drive in cinema on the beach that day. And it has gone on to win two awards - Best Feature Film and Best Screenplay - at the Vienna Independent Film Festival as well as being screened at film festivals in Tuscany and the Ukraine.
In an interview last spring giving a flavour of the extraordinary location and bonding of the actors and crew, Plester said Backyard Village was the film he was most proud of in his varied career which has included acting, screenwriting, directing, documentary-making and voiceover.
Ahead of next month's British premiere he said: "Working on the film really was a dream job for me. It was a chance to do a small indie film with integrity and heart and to work with a director who I had great respect for.
"And, on top of all that, I also got to have 10 days 'holiday' in Iceland, which, to use a popular Icelandic phrase I picked up, was very much 'the raisin at the end of the hot dog'."
Among numerous films and TV shows, Plester has appeared in Ricky Gervais' After Life, Game of Thrones and the Oscar-winning movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Most recently he was seen playing Clarty, one of the scarecrows in Mackenzie Crook's Worzel Gummidge for the BBC.
Later this year, he will be appearing in a new Netflix series, Half Bad, and also has a cameo role in a new sci-fi series called Moonhaven which will be broadcast on Sky in the autumn.
The screening of Backyard Village begins at 8pm and will be followed by a Q&A with Plester, the film's director Marteinn Thorsson and co-writer Gummi Óskarsson, both of whom are flying in from Iceland for the occasion.
The story tells how Brynja, unable to face the mother who left her at a young age, takes shelter in a small guesthouse in a village outside Reykjavik. There she befriends Englishman Mark (Tim Plester), a British tourist, who's dealing with his own personal tragedy. The vulnerable pair form an unbreakable bond.
Reviews of Backyard Village have been very positive. Unseen Films described it as 'an utterly charming film that gets under your skin and carries you along. That the film works as well as it does is entirely due to the cast, headed by the marvellous Laufey Eliasdottir and Tim Plester, who make you feel they aren’t characters on the screen but real people you know'.
Christine Burnham of PopHorrorReview said: "The acting is terrific by both leads. Eliasdottir conveys so much emotion with subtleties of her face. It’s brilliant work. Plester, (and his character), is more expressive, but no less skilled in the expression of his pain.
"Iceland... has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The dance of the Northern Lights on a glacier absolutely made me gasp. Seeing Iceland in its green, lush, dreamy glory at the end was also an unexpected delight."
Owen Tyrie of Grapevine Magazine called it 'a work that, above all else, celebrates the goodness of human contact … Life isn’t about being alone; life is about building connections with others'.
Seth Eelen of Into:Screens said: "This movie reminds viewers that you’re never too old to make a change in your life and it's never too late to be happy with your career. After you watch this movie, call someone who you don’t talk to anymore, you might be saving someone’s life."
Meredith Taylor of FilmUforia said: "The feature’s shifting, twisting mood from drama, comedy and outright farce keeps us guessing in an unsettling scenario inflamed by surreal settings - Director of Photography Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson’s stunning camerawork reflecting the magnificent terrain where humans strive to make sense of their existence in an absurd tragic-comedy."
Santa Barbara Independent's Josef Woodward described Backyard Village as a 'life-affirmative film which takes in the spare, unspoiled Icelandic terrain with a minimalist visual approach, enhanced by the hypnotic ambient music by young Icelandic singer/composer Jófríður Ákadóttir."
Tickets to the Premiere of Backyard Villager can be found here.