Danish director Jeppe Rønde was an award-winning documentary maker (Jerusalem My Love, The Swenkas) when a former mining area in Wales was rocked by a large number of mysterious suicides. Between 2007 and 2012, 79 people - mostly teenagers - took their own lives in Bridgend County. They hanged themselves, without leaving suicide notes.
Rønde conducted extensive research in the area, winning the confidence of the local population, and following a number of local teenagers over six years. He incorporated their stories into the screenplay for his first fiction feature, shooting Bridgend entirely on location in Wales with a cast of British actors and local young people.
The expressive Hannah Murray plays Sara, who with her father Dave (Steven Waddington) returns to a small community in Bridgend County where Dave is involved as a police officer in investigating the suicide of a young person. Also a concerned father, he tries to stop Sara becoming involved with the insular, hostile local youths.
Rather than trying to find a solution to the puzzle, the film focuses on the troubled relationships between children and parents, the young people’s isolation maintained by peer pressure, and the dangerous tensions that arise when Sara falls in love. Rønde makes the attractiveness of the group culture palpable by juxtaposing his at times raw realism with almost magical images - misty woods, the invocation of the dead, naked teenagers, drifting on a lake.