THREE children, two donkeys and a heartwarming story about a trek across some of the North’s most iconic countryside is set for general national release this week with a special re-screening at an independent cinema where it was a record hit.

The Runaways was filmed in North Yorkshire and tells the story of the children who have to flee their home in Whitby, taking their two donkeys with them on a trek across the Moors to Leyburn in search of their estranged mother.

Made by writer/director Richard Heap it features leading stars including Mark Addy of The Full Monty, the Flintstones, Game of Thrones and Disney block buster Mary Poppins Returns and Tara Fitzgerald of Brassed Off, Game of Thrones and ITV’s dark drama Cheat .

Last year the precut version was given a special screening at Thirsk’s independent cinema, The Ritz, for its first sold out feature. This weekend, from January 10 to 12, the film is being rescreened at The Ritz again as it goes on general theatrical release, with Mr Heap appearing for a question and answer session.

He said: “I’m very pleased to bring the film back to The Ritz as we had so much support on that very special night when we put on the preview screenings locally as a way to say thank you to the people and region that supported the film.

"I wanted to make something my kids could really imagine being part of. I thought producing something with the gentle magic of say The Railway Children actually seemed fresh, almost revolutionary. I prefer a more intimate approach towards filmmaking, I don’t like having a big set and complicated lighting set-ups.

“For The Runaways I aimed for naturalistic performances, keeping an eye open for the intricacies and intimacies, of family relationships plus the beauty of the landscape. I looked for the poetry in a situation, creating a tone that is deeply affecting and filled with arresting images, a nod to slow cinema. The film and the performances are very much about humanity and living; and I believe younger audiences are sophisticated enough to respond to this.

“If a reviewer were to describe The Runaways as ‘a heartfelt, charming adventure with an undercurrent of modern family angst' then we’d have a hit on our hands. You can’t beat that and donkeys.”

Ritz volunteer Marc Davies said: “Even though we had limited involvement we feel a strong bond and are very pleased to be hosting showings of the finished film. I know from speaking to the team behind The Runaways what a labour of love it has been. The film was very well received on that one night a year ago and I’m sure will be popular again.

“Reviewers are full of praise for all aspects of the film. Rich has managed to garner a great cast to tell his story and the cinematography beautifully displays our local landscapes. The film is already being described as a classic.”

Tickets for the screening at The Ritz are available on the door for £6 with concessions at £5. It starts at 7pm and Mr Heap will be at the cinema on Saturday January 11 for the question and answer session.