A Pevensey farmer and his herd of cows are the unlikely stars of a film nominated for an international industry award.
Ninety-minute real-life drama ‘The Moo Man’ has been shortlisted in the World Cinema Documentary Competition and will be competing in the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in January.
Dairyman Steve Hook allowed filmmakers unlimited access to his Pevensey Levels business for four years.
The resulting film has became the first British movie about farming to be nominated for a festival award.
The movie is the story of Mr Hook and his heard of 55 cows - including the film’s unexpected star, a half a tonne, 12-year-old Holstein Friesian named Ida.
The surprisingly funny and heartwarming film tackles big issues such as the effect of large- scale farming and supermarket trade.
The film focuses on Mr Hook’s attempts to save his family farm on the Pevensey Levels by turning his back on cost-cutting dairies and supermarkets and choosing to focus on farming organically certified raw milk which allowed him to keep the close relationship with his herd.
It tracks his tragedy and triumph as he embarks on punishing long days, milking, bottling in the kitchen, delivering and promoting Longleys Farm – including a scene where he takes Ida on a trip to the seaside.
Mr Hook said, “In the end, what came across most strongly were the cows’ characters.
“They’re just beautiful animals.”
The film was produced from 130 hours of film by Andy Heathcote with his Trufflepig Films partner, co-director and editor Heike Bachelier, who are both based in Selmeston.
Mr Heatcote said, “What we didn’t know, but suspected when we set out to make the film, was Steve’s relationship with his animals.
“He has very chilled out cows. So much so, that it was sometimes difficult controlling the shot when you had one tugging at your sleeve.”
The film highlights the struggles of farmers who have to compete against the big supermarkets.
Mr Heathcote added, “The film started out being about how we would like our farms to be run, but it’s not economically possible because of the supermarkets and the big dairies.
“People need to wake up. If you want cheap food you have to say goodbye to this type of farming.”
Despite these concerns , Longleys Farm has gone from strength to strength over the years and has won awards.
The film gives the family business the chance to show what goes on behind the scenes.
The film’s original score was written by Stephen Daltry.
It will have its worldwide premiere at the festival and is due to open in UK cinemas next year.