High Royds Hospital is setting for new film

On behalf of the Friends Ron (our chairman) attended the World Premiere of the film BETH at the Ilkley Cinema last Sunday ( November 1st) the article below is by By Emma Clayton of the Wharfedale Observer.

A TEENAGER has been shortlisted for a major award for her film about the former High Royds psychiatric hospital.

Aged just 14, Ava Bounds is a rising talent in the movie industry after being shortlisted for IMDb New Filmmaker Award, organised by one of the world’s most popular online sources for film and TV content.

Ava has written, directed and edited Beth, the story of a real life patient at High Royds when it was a Victorian asylum, which has its world premiere at Ilkley Cinema on Sunday before it travels to film festivals around the world.

The film is set in 1898. Elizabeth Hannah Martin, known as Beth, a determined young woman who escapes from the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum and desperately tries to return home.

When she hears she has been earmarked for a new and dangerous ‘therapy’, she plots her escape and, once free, travels through Yorkshire, longing for home, with only a photograph to guide her. She meets a strange young boy who helps her press on with a journey that forces her to face haunting memories and stark truths. When the family she meets isn’t the one she had hoped for, will Beth end up forever trapped in the Victorian asylum system?

Ava says the film, based on true events, “is an epic and visually striking tale of history and mental illness that will lure the viewer into an experience of sadness, wonder and eternal hope.”

“Asylums in the Victorian era were dumping grounds for the poor and the mentally unstable. Although the West Riding Asylum was at the forefront of patient care (the first to introduce lithium), patients were known to escape into the surrounding countryside.”

Elizabeth Hannah Martin was a 16-year old girl incarcerated in what was then the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Menston, which opened in October, 1888.

The hospital, which later became High Royds, was largely self-sufficient and had its own library, surgery, dairy, bakery, butchers and railway. Its large estate was used for agriculture and market gardening and patients, if they were able, worked on the farm or in the kitchens or laundry.

After services were transferred to St James’ Hospital and the Mount psychiatric hospital in Leeds, High Royds closed in 2003. The old hospital buildings were used for several films and TV dramas including Asylum,No Angels, Bodies and Heartbeat.

The Kaiser Chiefs song Highroyds is inspired by the hospital. Three of the band members went nearby St Mary’s School in Menston.

Ava’s film, Beth, was shot in Ripon and Leeds over the summer with a cast and crew of 15. During lockdown Ava made her debut micro short film, Players, which has won awards at international online film festivals.

Aged 11, she worked with Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, appearing in his West End smash hit, The Ferryman.

Ava says her writing and directing is inspired by period settings in her native Yorkshire.

“Yorkshire is a film-maker’s dream, with everything, from dark mills to perfect period houses, seaside to rolling hills,” says Ava. “Plus there is a lot of talent here.”

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