A Year in a Field

UK 2022, 86 mins
Director: Christopher Morris

Winter Solstice 2020: with his camera and tripod, BAFTA winning documentary filmmaker Christopher Morris began filming each day in a field near his home.

‘I’ve never glued my hand to a road, or strapped myself to a tree and I’ve never been on a climate protest march but once in a lifetime natural disasters are happening more than once in my lifetime and I’ve got to do something…’

A quiet, unnoticed, one-man vigil, a direct-action of stillness.

He stopped filming on Winter Solstice 2021: a year that UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said was ‘make or break’ for humanity to confront the climate crisis.

‘I struggle to comprehend what I am being told.’

A Year in a Field is not made by a climate scientist. It is a local, lo-fi, low-impact film – in contrast to the overblown, blue-chip, carbon-generating film productions that fly the globe in pursuit of unfamiliar wonders to address the climate emergency through tech-driven cinematic dazzle – more akin to science fiction.

‘How do we respond to such monumental and remote stories?’

BAFTA-winning documentarian Christopher Morris invites us to slow down, as he films for a year in a West Cornwall field; to immerse ourselves in this quiet, direct-action of stillness, to take a breath and reflect on the planetary impacts of our brief human existence, under the watchful gaze of the Longstone, an ancient monolith that predominates this elemental landscape.

From Winter Solstice 2020 to Winter Solstice 2021, a string of unprecedented worldwide climate disasters, met by weak global political resolve, are revealed as just fleeting moments, under the ever-present unflinching granite gaze of the Longstone.

There are no interviews or experts in this film. In fact, there are no human beings at all; instead, an unassuming Cornish field near Land’s End takes centre stage, and a crop of spring barley forms the centre of an unfolding, compelling and beautiful narrative.

The field is extraordinary in one respect – at its centre is the Longstone, a 4000-year-old standing stone, carved, and thrust into the soil at a time when humans first began on an industrial scale to adversely affect the planet. This pillar of granite has stood silent sentinel to everything we have done and continue to do to our planet. The ominous stone figure forms the central protagonist in this sublimely unique film – it points to where we have come from and perhaps where we are headed.

A cultivated field, an ancient monolith, and a transitory human observer. This film is a record of their brief interaction.

‘As I got closer and closer to the field, my view grew wider and wider, until finally, looking at the same small field, I began to see the universe.’

Production notes

About the filmmaker
Christopher Morris worked for the BBC in London and Cardiff (1989-2003) as a documentary director, factual producer and executive producer.

His career in radio and television encompasses drama and commercials but primarily documentary. Recurring themes include the changing nature of childhood, faith and social justice, often working with marginalised communities.

Since leaving the BBC in 2003, he has been working as an academic, freelance documentary maker and story consultant for feature documentaries.

Morris worked as an academic at Newport Film School (2003-2015), setting up and running the first three-year BA documentary film course in the UK. He was director of Newport Film School (2009-2011) and was awarded a chair as Professor of Documentary Film Practice (2011).

Morris was director of the School of Film & Television at Falmouth University, Cornwall (2015-2020).

Since 2020 he has returned full time to making films.

In 2021, Morris wrote and directed KESTAV, a short science fiction drama featuring a Cornish speaking alien and he’s also been standing in a Cornish field for a year making A Year in a Field, his first feature length documentary; a personal response to our changing climate.

Awards include: a BAFTA and two BAFTA Cymru Awards, a Royal Television Society Award, five Torcs at the Celtic Media Festival, The Premios Ondas (Spain), a Special Jury Award at Le Prix Jeunesse and prizes at the Berlin Film Festival and Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

A film by: Christopher Morris
©: Bosena Ltd
a Bosena production
Presented by: Stone Club
in association with: Sound/Image Cinema Lab
Produced by: Denzil Monk
Associate Producers: Neil Fox, Matthew Shaw, Lally Macbeth
Written by: Christopher Morris
Inspired by ‘A Year in the Life of a Field’ by : Michael Allaby
Graphic Design: Howard Miller
Colourist: Michael Todd
Music Composed/Played/Recorded by: Sarah Moody
Sound Designer: Claire Stevens
Field Recording: Bronwen Buckeridge
Additional Sound Recording: Malcolm Shaw
Treylya Kernewek gans [Cornish translations by]: Pol Hodge

UK 2022©
86 mins

Anti-Worlds Releasing

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email