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Owen Sheers pens film noir thriller inspired by Dylan Thomas

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Laura Chamberlain Laura Chamberlain | 09:22 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

A film noir thriller by Welsh writer Owen Sheers, which takes its inspiration from Dylan Thomas' final visit to America in 1953 before his death, has been snapped up by a UK production company.

Sheers' screenplay, entitled A Visit To America, has been acquired by the London and west Wales based Western Edge Pictures.

Owen Sheers. Photo © Charlotte Medlicott

Owen Sheers. Photo © Charlotte Medlicott

Set in 1953 in New York, the film's protagonist is a private detective. With his life in personal and professional crisis he takes on a new assignment for Time Magazine, who have tasked him with gathering evidence to defend a libel case brought against them by a British writer.

The British, or rather Welsh, writer is none other than Dylan Thomas, who has been named by the magazine in an article as a lecherous drunk; a label to which he has taken litigious exception.

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

The story follows the detective as he trails Thomas around the city detailing his behaviour and gathering evidence of his drinking, one would assume rather easily given his reputation, to use in the case.

Yet he is soon captivated by the poetry of the Welsh author, and as the blurb from the film's notes states, "the poet's words draw him in and start to cast his own torment in a new light."

Western Edge plan to shoot the film in New York in 2013 ready for a release date in 2014, which marks the centenary of the poet's birth in Swansea in October 1914. The film will link up with numerous Dylan Thomas centenary events in the UK and around the globe in celebration of the anniversary.

The chief executive officer of Western Edge Pictures is Vaughan Sivell, who grew up in west Wales. He said:

“It’s really exciting to be working with Owen on a project that will showcase such a great Welsh writing talent and Thomas’ impact in the States in a really creative and unusual way - it feels very much in the rebellious spirit of Thomas himself."

The production company were behind the 2010 film Third Star, which was largely filmed in location in Pembrokeshire and notably the beautiful Barafundle Bay. Take a look back at a gallery of photos from the film on the BBC Wales Arts website.

The film will mark Sheers' third foray into the cinematic world following Resistance (2011) and The Gospel Of Us (2012). The Welsh writer told us:

"This is an idea I've wanted to bring to fruition for many years and I'm thrilled to be developing it with such a dynamic Welsh production company."

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