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Filthy might be just the word to describe this explicit tale of sex and violence set in a rural community somewhere and sometime in the north of England.

Taking Emile Zola’s La Terre as his starting point, performance artist Andrew Kotting goes all out to show the harsh life of rural Britain in a time not so long ago. Mud, blood, shit and much, much worse are sprayed across the screen, while the tale of sisters Kath and Fran unfolds; their drab lives transformed by a local farmer, who marries into the family to get their land and then becomes dangerously controlling.

While the actors, particularly Rebecca Palmer and Demelza Randall as the sisters, give raw and convincing performances, Kotting’s experimental camerawork delivers a truly visceral journey for the viewer. This is Shakespeare meets kitchen-sink drama.

Anybody remotely connected with farming life will immediately be in tune with this gripping, grim melodrama. It maybe bleak, but it’s filled with humanity, and Kotting – one of the few artists today following in the footsteps of the visionary Derek Jarman – totally succeeds in getting his themes about belonging and the dispossessed across, albeit in a truly experimental way (mind you Michael Bay and the like will be poaching ideas from it before you know it).

The BFI DVD release includes two of Kotting’s other visual installations, which will be of great interest to fellow visual artists.

Released 22 June