Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 16:58 UK

Village life makes arthouse film

Film still
The film has got a release in 28 independent UK cinemas in June and July

A tiny rural community in Wales is being put on the map after a nationwide cinema deal to show a film about its fight for survival.

Gideon Koppel's documentary Sleep Furiously has won critical acclaim for the story of Trefeurig, Ceredigion, where the filmmaker grew up.

The 1,000 villagers lost their school and bus service.

Mobile librarian John Jones, who is featured, called it a "wonderful, natural film".

Trefeurig, 10 miles from Aberystwyth, is comprised of four hamlets, Banc-y-Darren, Cwmsymlog, Cwmerfyn and Penbontrhydybeddau, and has a population of around 1,000.

Koppel moved to Cwmerfyn at age 12. He described it as "the end of the line" but the place where his parents found a sense of belonging.

Gideon Koppel Photo: Dave Swindells
Koppel said he wanted to show the community's change Photo: Dave Swindells

His mother still lives in the mid Wales community whose everyday life is being shown in arthouse cinemas in all the UK's major cities including Cardiff.

Although it was completed two years ago, the documentary has only just gained a distribution deal. A London premiere was a sell-out earning rave reviews.

Its main theme is the degeneration of traditional rural communities and the impact of industrialisation on social harmony.

The film borrows its title from a quotation by the veteran American intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky who showed how a sentence whose grammar is correct can still be nonsensical.

Koppel said he wanted the title to play a part in the viewer's understanding of the film.

Location map

He said: "I wanted to observe the way in which the sense of community is changing and having to change and having to adapt to a modern world. Perhaps at times the film suggests a regretful change."

He said the closure of the community's 12-pupil primary school 2006 had made a "massive difference" to the community.

He said: "The rhetoric of 'community' is very popular with political speak but [public] policies don't really address ways of keeping communities alive.

"In other words, the common services which create and support communities are all being withdrawn."

John Jones runs the mobile library in Trefeurig and he is featured in the film.

He said: "Sleep Furiously is a wonderful, natural film and its importance will grow as years go by because here in 95 minutes Gideon has collected the reminiscences we find monthly with the kind-hearted wonderful characters of this rural community.

"It's important that we keep these rural communities as strong as possible."

Villager Edwina Davies said: "It's given the atmosphere, the music and the quietness, I like the quiet pieces. That made you think.

Trefeurig is a community of four hamlets, with a population of 1,000

"The way of life might be dying, the old way of life, but the community is definitely not dying.

"We're all pulling together now to try and keep the school building... as a community centre... we've got quite a few clubs going on there."

A screening with the director at Aberystwyth arts centre later this month is followed with a question-and-answer session.

BBC Five Live film critic Mark Kermode called it a "beautiful portrait of a community which is kind of facing extinction".

He said it was "entertaining and lovely" and a "lyrical, visual poem".

Other critics have called it "quiet, off-beat, tender poetry" and praised its "richness and an unshowy compassion".

The film is due to be shown at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Chapter in Cardiff and Scala in Prestatyn later in June.

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