Program 02: God’s Own Country
OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
Directed by Francis Lee
RUSH TICKETS ONLY – ADVANCE TICKETS HAVE SOLD OUT FOR GOD’S OWN COUNTRY.
A limited number of rush tickets will be available at the door. Rush tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on how many seats are available after full festival pass holders and advance ticket holders are admitted. Rush tickets are normally sold 5 to 10 minutes prior to the screening. There will be a line designated for those interested in purchasing rush tickets.
As the sole able-bodied man of the house, Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) handles much of the responsibility on the isolated Yorkshire farm where he lives with his grandmother (Gemma Jones) and ailing father, Martin (Ian Hart). It’s not a household prone to outward shows of emotion, and Johnny numbs himself to his stifling existence through drinking and casual sex, when he manages to find time.
But with lambing season beginning, Martin hires Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secareanu) to help out around the farm temporarily. Johnny at first treats the newcomer with a sullen indifference, though he seems a bit envious of the way the work seems to come so naturally to him. Taunting Gheorghe by repeatedly referring to him as “gypsy,” Johnny does little to endear himself to the handsome farmhand.
Then during an overnight trip to the moors, their tensions give way. Slowly, the two men develop an unexpected intimacy that allows Johnny to let go of the resentments he’s allowed to eat away at him over the years. When a medical emergency leaves the two young men tending to the farm on their own, Johnny gets a chance to see what a truly fulfilling life might look like, if he can find a way to open himself up to it.
With its realistic depiction of farm life serving as backdrop to a powerful, starkly told love story, God’s Own Country calls to mind the cowboys of Brokeback Mountain (though more upbeat in tone). Creating a vivid sense of place, director Francis Lee lets us feel the chill in the Northern England air, and the rugged sparseness of the landscape acts as contrast to the tender romance at the story’s heart. As Gheorghe and Johnny find their own form of shelter, God’s Own Country offers a melancholy but ultimately hopeful tale about the ways love can act as a light in the dark, guiding us toward the place we’re truly meant to be.
— Adam Lubitow
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- JURY AWARD, World Cinema Dramatic Directing Prize – Sundance Film Festival
- JURY AWARD, Best First Feature – Inside Out Toronto International LGBT Film Festival
- JURY AWARD, Best International First Feature – Galway Film Fleadh
- JURY AWARD, Best British Feature Film – Edinburgh International Film Festival
- READER JURY AWARD, Männer Magazine, Teddy Awards – Berlin International Film Festival
- GRAND JURY PRIZE, NOMINEE – Sundance Film Festival
- SPECIAL JURY AWARD – Transilvania International Film Festival
- AUDIENCE AWARD, Best Narrative Feature – Frameline San Francisco LGBTQ International Film Festival
- OPENING NIGHT SELECTION – Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival
- OPENING NIGHT SELECTION – Outfest LA LGBT Film Festival