Britain on Film: Made in my Town (URBAN)

Britain on Film
Image: 'Letter from Wales' From Britain on Film available at BFI Player
Image: 'Letter from Wales' From Britain on Film available at BFI Player

150 UNSEEN FILMS ABOUT LIFE IN WALES REVEALED FOR THE FIRST TIME

BRITAIN ON FILM LAUNCHES ON BFI PLAYER!
 

7 July 2015: The BFI today launches Britain on Film, a new project that reveals hidden histories and forgotten stories of people and places from the UK’s key film and TV archives. From today the archives go digital on BFI Player, giving everybody in the UK free[1] access to 1,000’s[2] of film and TV titles featuring where they live, grew up, went to school, holidayed as a child, or any place of interest in Britain. By 2017, thanks to National Lottery funding and the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, 10,000 film and TV titles from 1895 to the present day will be digitised. The public can get involved with the project via Twitter and Facebook, with a campaign launching today that sees 60 films from all over the UK released over 60 days, and special screenings and events across Wales.

Through the project, Britain on Film curators have found extraordinary footage of ordinary people and places from across the collections.
 

Wales’ highlights include:

  • Men Against Death (1933) - the first sound film ever to have been made and set in Wales featuring Dorothea Quarry and its slateworkers who are “poised between heaven and earth”
  • Tryweryn – The Story of a Valley (1969) - a documentary filmed by schoolchildren of the events up to and the flooding of Capel Celyn, including the last ever day at the village school.
  • Letter from Wales (1953) – a charming Welsh language drama produced for the Children’s Film Foundation, set in and around Llandwrog featuring a happy blend of children, animals and indulgent adults.
  • Tiger Bay and the Rainbow Club (1960) – silent film showing life in Tiger Bay, a diverse community celebrating weddings and children enjoying trips and activities at the local Rainbow Club.
  • Time of Change (1967) – a tale of two employees at the Anglo Celtic Watch Company in Ystradgynlais, otherwise known as ‘The Tick Tock’.
  • Dulais Valley - a dizzying array of community celebrations in and around Onllwyn between the 1950s-70s. Filmed in colour by Master Baker John Dillwyn Williams. Hywel Francis, the MP for Aberavon from 2001 to 2015,features as a young boy.
  • Babs’ Recovery (1969) - a Ministry of Defence film showing the excavation of Babs the racing car from Pendine Sands after it crashed and killed Wrexham’s John Godfrey Parry Thomas in 1927 as he attempted to beat the land speed record.

This newly accessible film and TV presents a Britain that is vibrant, diverse and eccentric, whilst shining a light on issues and situations that affect every generation. Many of these films have never - or rarely - been seen since their first appearance and can now be searched for by specific UK locations through BFI Player’s ground-breaking new Film and TV Map of the UK, which also enables people to share films with their family, friends and communities.
 

The Screen and Sound Archive of Wales has teamed up with the BFI and Film Hub Wales on the Britain on Film project. Film development officer Iola Baines said:

“There are some incredible pieces of Welsh film, rarely seen until now, which tell us so much about our shared history and our communities. Britain on Film has enabled us to unlock film heritage and to share this compelling footage with the wider public. Now we can all explore the landscapes and streets where we grew up, the communities of a previous generation and cultures and traditions that are now long gone.”

Britain on Film is the result of the BFI National Archive and the UK’s national and regional film archives and rights holders joining forces to bring these films together with a major programme of curation and digitisation that started in 2012 and continues until the end of 2017.
 

SCREENINGS AND EVENTS IN WALES:

Film Hub Wales are organising a series of Made in Wales (Made in my Town) screenings to share Britain on Film’s archive shorts with cinema audiences in January 2016.

Screenings and events are that took place included:

Gwyn Hall, Neath Port Talbot 

On 16th January, Gwyn Hall screened archive footage of Neath and the Dulais Valley featuring carnivals, weddings, playgrounds and majorettes from the 1950s - 1970's. You can watch the screening accompanied with live choir here. The archive film was followed by a screening of the locally filmed hit movie Pride.

Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea

Taliesin Arts Centre screened archive footage of the Swansea Reconstruction from the 1950s, looking at Swansea before and afer the Blitz and showing how communities coming together help to rebuild the city, making Swansea the city it once was but with a modern twist. The footage was followed by a showing of Little White Lies.

The Riverfront, Newport

On 16th January, The Riverfront celebrated life and culture in Newport, with curated Britain on Film archive film and work with local history groups. The films shown were Home from HomeWhite Rose Laundry and Coronation visit of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh.

Wrexham Library and Arts (BFI Mediatheque) 

On 25th January, Wrexham Library and Arts Centre screened 5 archive titles alongside discussions on the history of the area. These included Minera MineralWales v. Ireland (1906)Wrexham Co-op Society ProcessionWrexham Local Events and England v. Wales (1912).

Read more about 'Britain on Film' and 'Unlocking Film Heritage' here.