A Roof of Slate for Every House

© O'r Graig (Wicked Wales) / Slate Quarrying (National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales)
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Coming to Welsh cinemas in 2022, a series of films and activities celebrating the UNESCO world heritage status of the North West Wales slate landscape and exploring lesser-known connections to colonialism.

As slate was transported to countries all over the world, the agricultural landscape of Wales was transformed alongside communities who lived there – schools, shops and entire towns were built, establishing livelihoods for those who worked in the quarry mines, for over 200 years. In July 2021, the slate landscape of North-West Wales was awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sitting alongside other accomplishments such as The Great Wall of China and The Grand Canyon.

Much like these impressive man-made achievements, the slate mines of North Wales carry a deeper and more nuanced history about Wales’ position as a colonial subject and beneficiary of the wealth generated by the British Empire through slate production which should be revealed alongside celebrations of this new status. 

In partnership with the Screen and Sound Archive at the National Library of Wales, exhibitors across the UK can access short archival films, features and contemporary documentaries highlighting the history of slate mining in Wales. We’re creating discussion around its impact on local communities, connections to slavery and wider colonial projects led by the British empire, looking deeper into mining and miners’ rights around the world today. 

If you have an idea for a ‘slate themed’ event, activity or discussion that you would like to programme alongside the suggested films, we can offer bursaries of up to £500 (if you have something extra special in mind, then just let us know).

Examples of costs we can cover include: 

  • Marketing, 
  • Community outreach, 
  • Added value (Q&A, workshop costs), 
  • Audience evaluation 
  • Staffing

All you need to do is get in touch by email to lisa@filmhubwales.org and tell us:

  • Your proposed screening/event date, 
  • Projected audience numbers, 
  • Any special event plans, 
  • Your marketing ideas, 
  • Costs you need help with, 
  • What match you can offer (box office/in-kind time etc). 20-50% guideline.

These heritage shorts and features can be screened alongside each other as well as contemporary documentaries with opportunities for post-screening discussions highlighting the history of slate mining in Wales, its impact on local communities, connections to slavery and wider colonial projects led by the British empire.  

Download the Film Programme here

You can also view our live working document with additional films for your programme here

A ‘how to’ guide to help you programme these films, navigate these often-difficult conversations with your audiences and ways to run added activity events.

You can view and download the guide here:

We commissioned a conversation between Welsh historians, researchers and film programmers about slate mining, miners’ rights, slavery and the wider connections to the British empire. A clip is available to view below. The full discussion will be available to screen in your cinema.

Confirmed screenings (further events to be announced throughout 2022).

Cellb, Blaenau Festiniog
10-12 and 17-19 June 2022 (TBC)

The Quarry Film Fest will include two weekends of quarry / slate themed activities including film screenings, discussions, and slate craft workshops for young creatives (such as slate splitting). There will be a historical society discussion panel with the Club youth group and a panel talk with quarry men who worked in the slate mines. Themes will include the Penryn and Pennant families and their connections to slavery, along with the question of ‘who is missing’ when we think about people and places connected to slate mining.

TAPE Community Music and Film, Colwyn Bay
9 May 2022 (TBC)

Archival shorts will screen alongside the Whole Story panel discussion and a post screening talk with Dr Marian Gwyn – a heritage consultant specialising in the slave trade and colonialism. Using the Roof of Slate resource pack, TAPE will look at the idea of ‘Who is Missing?’ from screen stories around slate, before leading workshops where participants will produce slate artwork, in response to the issues raised. Work will be exhibited in the TAPE gallery from the 27th May, alongside a short film of the finished pieces.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre
June / July (TBC)

Through conversations and film screenings, including archive shorts from the National Library of Wales Screen and Sound Archive, Aberystwyth Arts Centre will highlight aspects of Welsh slate mining that have been traditionally absent from narratives surrounding slate history in Wales

Off Y Grid
Date TBC
Off Y Grid is a network of 7 venues across North Wales that collaborates on affordable, year round, activities designed to promote independent films and global culture to rural audiences at their local independent cinema. They will collaborate on a joint event, bringing in a local historian to give context to the collection of films.

Dragon Theatre, Barmouth
Sunday 26th June 2022 (TBC)

The Theatre will screen Y Chwarelwr (The Quarryman), the first ever talkie in Welsh, following the quarryman’s life in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The feature will be accompanied by documentary short O’r Graig about the slate industry in North Wales and Q&A with a special guest speaker.

Browse our list of Welsh made, Welsh language and Welsh archive films here, with details of how to book.

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