Queer Welsh horror film proves ‘gender-fluid, confused, sex-obsessed teens’ can be heroes

Dion (L) and Jude (R). (Strike Pictures Production_Nant)

Nant, created by Welsh filmmaker Tom Chetwode-Barton, is a fantasy-horror-queer coming-of-age story that finds its roots in Welsh mythology. 

The film, which had its world premiere at BFI London Film Festival, follows Dion (Pete Machale), a boy who finds confidence in his queer identity through being guided by Welsh spirits past.

When he meets Jude (Dylan Brady), a new arrival in town they form a bond that is tested and eventually rises victorious.

“I wanted to tell a story that was inherently queer and inherently Welsh,” Chetwode-Barton tells PinkNews.

He continues: “Pretty much all of my work stems from frustration and dissatisfaction at the level at which Wales is left out of the conversation politically, socially, culturally, economically.”

Nant. (Strike Pictures Production/Nant)

Nant features an almost entirely queer, trans and non-binary cast. (Strike Pictures Production/Nant)

Nant, spoken in Welsh and featuring an almost entirely queer, trans and non-binary cast and crew from Wales aims to show that the messages we take from folklore can be for anyone.

“The story is meant to show that these spirits would just as much guide a queer person or a disabled person, or a person of colour, as they would the typical hero in the story,

“If a straight Arthurian legend Arthur can pull a sword out of a lake, why not a gender-fluid, confused, sex-obsessed teenager in 2021?” Chetwode-Barton explains. 

The various spirits Dion meets on his journey are meant to be “hyper-sexualised queer versions” of Welsh figures such as Owain Glyndwr.

“Some of them were just meant to represent ghosts of Welsh past who themselves could very easily have been queer, but not have been able to show it,” he says. 

When Dion meets Jude (Dylan Brady), they embark on a sweet romance, which included filming intimate scenes between the two. 

Jude (L) and Dion (R). (Strike Pictures Production/Nant)

Chetwode-Barton ‘wanted to tell a story that was inherently queer and Welsh’. (Strike Pictures Production/Nant)

Chetwode-Barton says: “Our intimacy coordinator, Hardman, was incredible. The process of working with her was an amazing combination of interpretive dance and a deep understanding of consent and boundaries.”

Jude cannot see the spirits at the beginning of the film and eventually betrays Dion in his fear of being found out, however by the end, we see his redemption as he embraces the spirit and shows up for Dion. 

The final scene in Nant sees Dion ascending into the sky in a moment of sheer power. The inspiration for this scene came from Lord of the Rings when Galadriel refuses the ring and floats up. 

“I wanted it to feel like Dion is harnessing this ancestral power that he previously wasn’t able to tap into.

“There is power in this ancestral struggle that we all share and it’s magical and strong, and a lot bigger than you would think,” Chetwode-Barton concludes.