“The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.”
― Napoleon Hill
In Romania, a country for whom the wolf was once the symbol of its people, the ancient pact of friendship made between man and dog has been broken in the name of urbanization.
Overcrowding in poorly built apartment blocks has led to the abandonment of thousands of dogs. In Bucharest there are approximately 60,000 strays. In a desperate bid to fight the increasing stray population many of these dogs are killed on the streets or end up in government owned shelters known as “kill shelters”, so named because most of the dogs will never be seen again.
This is the story of a dog who should have died in one of these shelters. It is a story of survival against impossible odds, of betrayal and forgiveness, of the cruelty and kindness of strangers. It is the story of a miracle. It is the story of a dog called Fleur.
Based on the book FLEUR, THE DOG WHO REFUSED TO DIE by Wendy Morris, THE LADY OF VALGRAYS (working title) will tell the story of Fleur’s incredible journey from street dog to “Lady of Valgrays” – a symbol of hope for all of Romania’s abandoned dogs and recipient of the Daily Mirror’s 2019 Animal Hero Rescue Award.
Directed by Ian and Dominic Higgins and produced by Nigel Martin Davey, the creative team behind 7 DAYS – THE STORY OF BLIND DAVE HEELEY, THE LADY OF VALGRAYS (working title) will be a dramatic and ultimately uplifting testimony to the spirit and courage of one dog whose story will shine a light on the current situation for so many dogs in Romania and other parts of the world.
THE APPROACH TO TELLING THE STORY
The visual style of the film will be very distinctive in order to create a unique and engaging viewing experience for both young and old.
Indeed, Fleur’s journey from “street urchin” to cherished family member and ambassador for rescue dogs has both a very Dickensian feel and a fairy tale like quality (a very dark fairy tale in parts), and this concept will greatly influence the visual style of the film. Such a visual style will allow us to depict the brutality and horrors of the Kill Shelters in a way that won’t render the film unsuitable for younger audiences, as we feel that perhaps they are our most important audience.
“It was an emotional time, and a sad realisation that these children had no idea how to show a dog love. When we knelt down to hug stray dogs, the look on their faces was as though we were from another planet – and it really hit us this day, that the children are simply not educated – no one tells them how to treat a dog with love and care”.
PAWS2RESCUE (Romanian Rescue Dog Charity)
Estimated budget: £265,000 Email for budget breakdown.
Most of the film is set in Bucharest, Romania and Hampshire, England.
The traditional architecture in Bucharest really lends a fairy-tale look to the setting, ideal for the visual style of the film and the approach we intend to take in the telling of the story.
Even the derelict remains of the communist government’s failed attempt to industrialize Romania have a strange kind of beauty and other worldly quality.
The traditional English village in Hampshire with its old-world charm and aesthetic again makes for an ideal fit for our intended visual style and approach to telling the story.