In his feature film debut Gwledd (The Feast), director Lee Haven Jones presents suspense and horror through the medium of the Welsh language.

Currently showing in cinemas throughout the UK, Gwledd is a landmark moment for Welsh culture as one of the few features films from the country and the dialogue is completely in Welsh.

We sat down with Jones and leading actor Annes Elwy to talk about their very Welsh folk horror.

Jones excitedly describes his film, "It starts in a very naturalistic vein, almost like a Chekhov play, and then gradually spirals and spins out of control and becomes far more expressionistic and surreal and theatrical."

Gwledd is a film about a dinner party held by politician Gwyn and his wife Glenda in a remote house in the Welsh hills. Their two grown up sons are among the guests who are served by Cadi, a young woman from the nearby village who's brought in at short notice to help cater for them.

Slowly, the film reveals more supernatural goings-on and outright twisted scenery. Cadi becomes the central figure to these events, and director Lee Haven Jones describes how Blodeuwedd from the Mabinogion was an inspiration for the character.

"It's this idea of a character being an embodiment of the indiscriminate forces of nature," he says.

Before continuing, "we wanted to tell this environmental story, and suddenly all of these things came together to have this character at the centre of the piece, Cadi, who was an embodiment of nature."

But this sense of nature in Gwledd isn't a bed of roses, perhaps leaning more on the original version of the Mabinogion rather than the filtered version that's read to children: "Nature is indiscriminant, isn't it? And that's quite interesting from a character point of view. There's no empathy in nature, it just does what it does," he adds.

While it's relatively unique to see the Welsh language on the big screen, the film itself has a seemingly unique cinematic language. Along with the geographical setting, could Gwledd be going some way towards creating a style of Welsh cinema?

"We don't really have a cinematic tradition in Wales. You can't call three films in eight years, a cinematic tradition."

READ MORE: WATCH: Welsh horror movie Gwledd (The Feast) to reach cinemas in August

Being completely in the Welsh language, with no English version, Gwledd bucks a recent trend that's developed in TV in Wales over the last decade or so.

"In our past experience of making television we have to make it in Welsh and then we have to make it in English in order to sell it, and it led me to thinking about why that was.

"I deduced that it was to do with the fact that a lot of what we have made historically has been culturally and tonally and aesthetically very similar to what we see in Britain as a whole.

Annes Elwy stars in Gwledd (The Feast), a Welsh language folk horror that's taking the world of cinema by storm.Annes Elwy in Gwledd (The Feast).

"The theory with this was to make something that was tonally and aesthetically other."

Jones is only talking about this particular film, but his outlook could be seen as inspirational to all who create in Wales through any medium.

"We're a small nation. There aren't that many of us. And the best way to get our message out into the world, and our films out into the world, is to define them clearly.

"This is a good opportunity for us to start to define that."

Annes Elwy, who grew up in Penarth, plays Cadi. Her ethereal stare lends the character an unsettling, quietness that sits somewhere between innocence and malevolence.

"Cadi barely speaks," she says, "but she's so attuned to other senses.

"She's smelling everything and feeling everything and tasting everything. She just lets everybody else do the talking.

"It was a really different character for me to play, because you just switch off some senses and tap into the other ones."

Annes Elwy stars in Gwledd (The Feast), a Welsh language folk horror that's taking the world of cinema by storm.Director Lee Haven Jones on the set of Gwledd (The Feast) with Annes Elwy.

Regarding the film's setting, she says, "It's so nice to feel like you're transported into a certain place. And these characters are unique to this place. I feel that when we film things in Wales, things are so vague, even accent-wise, you're only distinguished by being from Wales, there's no specific place that you have to be from.

"We know that being in Wales is different. It would be great if we could just make films and television that really represented who we are, and showcased what we're about, rather than just hoping to get further ahead by copying what other countries do."

Regarding the topic of "who we are" in Wales, as well as the environmental message of "getting back to nature", there's more to the film, as Jones explains.

"It seemed to me that this was a great way of getting that kind of social, political, cultural message out disguised as a horror film. 

"It's about the way that we as Welsh people are disengaging from our culture and from our heritage and from our language."

The middle class family in the film who own the house are a symbol for a lot of issues facing Wales today, "They look elsewhere for meaning, they don't see their future in Wales, Wales is just sort of a repository for memories in a way."


It provokes questions about what Wales is for Welsh people, and what it means to be Welsh. Are the earth and soil and mountains who we are as Welsh people? Or is it something else that connects us to Wales?

"Cadi is a person of the soil," says Elwy, "and her ultimate goal is just to get back to the soil."

Gwledd (The Feast) is in cinemas now.