Dozens of guests recently attended the county premiere of Rural Action Derbyshire’s award-nominated short film. 

We hosted a special screening of The Willows at The Ritz Cinema in Belper, with over 40 people in the audience for the showing of the film and an in-depth Q&A afterwards – including Mrs Elizabeth Fothergill CBE, His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire.

The 20 minute scripted drama tells the story of Dawn, who is forced to live under the control of her husband. The powerful short film highlights the nature of domestic abuse in rural areas, and demonstrates the devastating effect it can have on those living in countryside communities.

While The Willows has previously featured on BBC One’s Countryfile programme, and has been viewed over 14,000 times on YouTube, this is the first time the film has been spotlighted on the silver screen in Derbyshire.

Following the showing, a panel of special guests including Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster, Naomi Hyland from the Elm Foundation and Judith Vickress of the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance took to the stage to answer questions from the press and public.

"This event was so different from anything RAD has done before, and it was such a courageous move from the team"

Members of the audience received thought-provoking insight on the nature and impact of domestic abuse, including first-hand from Alice, a rural abuse survivor, who shared her experience to help shine a light on this important issue.

Speaking after the event, Simon Taylor, Chair of Rural Action Derbyshire, spoke of the effect it had on him, saying: “I have seen the film a number of times before and it has never ceased to move me. My emotions were heightened seeing it on the big screen which meant I noticed some new clever visual and audio details.

“This event was so different from anything RAD has done before, and it was such a courageous move from the team. To have those esteemed guests and such a broad range of interest groups in the audience was such an achievement.”

This was echoed by Claire Dean, a Partner at Geldards LLP, who joined the panel on the day. She added: “The event was really great and we are very happy to continue to raise awareness as much as we can.”

The Willows was created by The Willow Project, run by Rural Action Derbyshire, which delivers awareness training throughout the county to help people identify the signs of domestic abuse and have the confidence to report it.

The Project also produces The Willow Pod, a regular podcast series dedicated to highlighting the issue of abuse, and can signpost survivors to a network of specialist support services if required.

Find out more about The Willow Project on our website