The Cunning Man directed by Zoë Dobson
The Cunning Man directed by Zoë Dobson

The mystical award-winning short film The Cunning Man, created, written and produced by Ali Cook and directed by Zoë Dobson will celebrate its Latin-American premiere at the renowned genre film festival Morbido. The award-winning film stars Simon Armstrong and Ali Cook.

The Cunning Man is a short film inspired by John Harries (1785-1839), a physician and ‘Cunning Man’. A cunning-man is a healer who uses folklore magic.

The film tells the story of an elderly and mysterious farmer who drifts through the Welsh valleys collecting dead animals. Refusing the services of the local abattoir’s collector, what he has in store for these creatures is beyond anyone’s imagination.

“I’ve been a professional magician for twenty years and when a magic show is done really well, it gives the audience a sense of astonishment and a feeling of wonder. I wanted to transfer that same feeling of wonder from a live show to a film,” says the project’s creator Ali Cook.

The film that Screen Mayhem rated Five Stars and calls “oddly charming with great performances” has recently begun its festival circuit, already winning Best Film at the Exit 6 Film Festival and Best Director at the Detroit Shetown Women’s Film Festival and the New Renaissance Film Festival. It has been selected to screen at BAFTA qualifying festivals Aesthetica Short Film Festival and Norwich Film Festival and will be competing for the prestigious Melies d’Argent award at Abertoir, the International Horror Festival of Wales.

From Zoë Dobson (director) and Ali Cook (actor, writer and producer), The Cunning Man is an enchanted tale in the face of callous greed. The film poses questions such as “Should animals be treated as a commodity?”

“These are rights that run deep in my own view and were reflected in the world of The Cunning Man,” says director Zoe Dobson. “In the ritual scene, when Afran recites an incantation from his book of spells in Welsh, he is in fact reciting the five key rights of animals as laid out in the EU Lisbon Treaty,” she adds.

Starring Simon Armstrong (Game of Thrones), Ian Kelly (Harry Potter & Deathly Hallows Part I & II) and Ali Cook (BAFTA award winning Kajaki), the film was co-produced by Ross Williams (producer of The Last Storm, long listed for Best Documentary Short at the Oscars) and features an original soundtrack by Lol Hammond and Duncan Forbes.

The Cunning Man – Trailer
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