Film reviews of
'A Very English Village'


Photo of Luke and film camera on South Downs


Newspaper film reviews of:
'A Very English Village - Going for the Kill'

'No-one watching this unshowy, unromanticised, though often beautifully shot film can have been left in any doubt as to why so many people in the countryside have felt so under attack ... And the quiet dignity of Lee and his family at the first post-ban drag hunt they turned up, they dressed up, they showed support, they dismounted will live long in the memory of this urbanite.'
Daily Telegraph film review

'An elegiac 90-minute film...an engrossing and deftly crafted documentary.'
The Sunday Times film review

'Cry the Beloved Country ... 'Going for the Kill' is not an apologia for those that hunt, but an inquiry into what happened when what Holland calls 'the politics of nostalgia' was allowed to get a grip on a national debate.'
Weekend Independent film review

'The mood of the feature length opening film is established in the opening moments, as the director introduces us to Gary, a patently vexed, indeed foul-mouthed farmer who will be the star of the show. From the start it is clear that Holland himself, although never seen, will be at the heart of the action along with his subjects, and that all of them know and are fond of him, as well as at times exasperated by his presence and that of his camera.'
The Financial Times - Critic's Choice.

'...an excellent documentary..beautifully made (and made now too, for the Golden-age moaners)... I felt I'd had a year in Ditchling. But it felt like a year well spent'.
The Guardian film review

'Meandering and gently paced, it lays on the bucolic charm thickly, heightening the poignancy of watching a whole way of life being systematically destroyed by economic and political forces'.
Evening Standard.

'Holland discretely creates a picture of a civilisation in its death throes, with the remaining aspects of country life being strangled by money.'
Financial Times.






Magazine film reviews of 'A Very English Village'

'The Ditchling films bring a classic quality of the non-journalistic British documentary back to the screen: the ability to stay with ordinary people and make their lives extraordinary and interesting, like all lives are when captured at the right moment by the right person who knows respect and has sensitivity. For many years Molly Dineen's film on people working at the London tube station Angel, Heart of the Angel (1989), for me was the superb, multi-layered example of how to capture the atmosphere of a small environment. It is no longer the only one that can serve as a case study on why documentary film-making is much more interesting in the hands of a director who dares to take the time to watch and listen.'

From Tue Steen Mueller's JAN 2006 DOX review of 'A VERY ENGLISH VILLAGE'

'The gentle ruminative pace allows the material to breathe and the important issues to gradually emerge.'
Time Out.






Comments from the BBC 'Have Your Say' website

'What an excellent series this has been so far, and how refreshing to see some slices of 'real' life instead of what is constantly sold to us as its substitute! Easily the most compelling and enjoyable documentary series for a long, long time.'
Comment logged on BBC website (Name available)

'A real breath of fresh air and such lovely people. Really sad about the Museum Curator, who died during filming - but the highlight for me was the Lady, who had suffered with Polio? Now she had STOICISM by the bucketful. A real fighting English Rose - what a lovely lady. She can come and be my Grandmother - any day!'

'Wonderful documentary making! congratulations to Luke and the team.'






More audience feedback

'It was not only the warp and weft of village life and relationships that appealed so much. I feasted on the stunning Downland views until practically drunk with nostalia. I miss Sussex life more than I can say ...
...such a sympathetic and affectionate portrait of village life - it should be archived for future generations for I fear it is fast disappearing. I shall include Ditchling in one of my future trips to Sussex this summer and look forward to recognising some of the wonderful faces from the series.'




Photograph of Luke and camera Lodge Hill



To contact Luke Holland at ZEF Productions, post a comment about the films or order the DVDs, please click on the image above.




The Ditchling Films
This series of five documentary films for the award-winning BBC 'Storyville' strand were first transmitted by the BBC in Autumn 2005, and repeated on BBC2 in January 2007.

Going for the Kill
The Ditchling film series opens with 'Going for the Kill', in which Luke follows a year in the life of Sussex farmer and Master of the local hunt, Gary Lee, at the time when the contentious Hunting Bill was being debated in Parliament.

Salad Days
A village production of this hit musical of Cold War England, offers insights on backstage Ditchling - an exercise in nostalgia, or updated escapism for a new dark age?

Looking for Mr Gill
An exploration of the legacy that Eric Gill, maverick genius of the Arts and Crafts Movement, has left to Ditchling, the early twentieth century setting for his controversial experiment in art and community.

Closing Time
Ditchling campaigns to save the village pub from a commercial assault that makes a nonsense of democracy - and of community.

The Ditchling Ladies
This, the last film in the series, features four ladies of Ditchling, two in their nineties, who offer entertaining and improbably lively insights on life, loss and love.

Interview with Luke Holland
'An elegiac 90-minute film...an engrossing and deftly crafted documentary.' The Sunday Times. Read more newspaper reviews and viewers' comments.

Film reviews of 'A Very English Village' (top of this page)