Sunset Song film set for Toronto world premiere

Agyness Deyn and Peter Mullan star in Sunset Song. Picture: Contributed
Agyness Deyn and Peter Mullan star in Sunset Song. Picture: Contributed
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A MOVIE version of one of Scotland’s most iconic novels is to get its world premiere in Canada later this year.

Sunset Song, which will be unveiled at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is one of the most eagerly-awaited Scottish films to go into production in recent years.

It was filmed on location last year in Aberdeenshire, where Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic farming story unfolds.

English actress Agyness Deyn has the starring role as Chris Guthrie, the young woman growing up in a disfunctional family in a remote community.

The film’s producers say the film - which is partly set during the First World War - see Deyn play “a young woman coming of age as her family is beset by tragedy, all during a time of great social upheaval and unrest.”

Director Terence Davies and producer Bob Last have joined forces again for the film after previously working together on period drama House of Mirth. It took the pair around 15 years to get the production off the ground.

The shoot began in New Zealand last year, with Christchurch standing in for the Mearns landscape from the novel, to capture the harvest season scenes, before moving to Scotland in April.

The filmmakers say Deyn’s character in the film - which is partly set during the First World War - is “a young woman coming of age as her family is beset by tragedy, all during a time of great social upheaval and unrest.”

Last told The Scotsman last year: “I have to admit I’d never actually read the book myself when Terence recommended it to me, but we’ve been pretty much been trying to get it made ever since and it was only last year that we managed to get all the funding in place.

“The different seasons are a very important part of the story in Sunset Song. We couldn’t film all together in any one location without using digital effects, but by going to New Zealand we were able to create the harvest scenes there.”

Natalie Usher, director of screen at arts Creative Scotland, which awarded the production £450,000, said: “We are delighted to hear that Sunset Song will receive its world premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in September.

“It’s wonderful to see an iconic Scottish story being brought to the big screen by an internationally renowned director. Congratulations to Terence Davies, Bob Last, and all the team on this great news.”

Published in 1932, Sunset Song was the first in what became to became to be known as the author’s “A Scots Quair” trilogy.

The BBC turned the book into a TV series in 1971 and in 2005 Sunset Song was named the “Best Scottish Book of All Time” at the Edinburgh International Book Festival after a six-week poll.

Other backers of the film version include BBC Scotland and the British Film Institute.