The Welsh ‘mam’ has played a central role in the social, cultural and economic life of the South Wales valleys for generations. In literature and film, she has been portrayed as a powerful matriarch within the confines of the miner’s home and family.
Through interviews, drama and archive films, we can look behind these myths to examine the reality of Welsh women both past and present. This reality involves oppression and subordination, which serve to reinforce the myth.
Genre: Feature, Documentary
Welsh Connections / Production Details
Written, Directed and Produced by: Pearl Berry, Frances Bowyer, Clare Richardson, Michelle Ryan, Caroline Stone, Carol White
Cast: Sharon Morgan, Rachel Thomas, Brendan Charleson
Production Company: Red Flannel Films
Location: Tonypandy, London, Penrhiwceiber, Maerdy
Format: BFI Player
Red Flannel: Liberating Women on Film – Michele Ryan, one of the founder members of Red Flannel Films, talks about the collaborative process of creating the film Mam in 1988.
Red Flannel Films: In 1981 a group of Welsh women film-makers set up the cooperative South Wales Women’s Film Group. Deirdre Beddoe was part of this group. They were reacting against being marginalised as women and as film-makers.
During the miners’ strike in 1985 many women became politically active; some of them channelled this activism into setting up Red Flannel Films in 1986. The members of this collective were Michele Ryan, Clare Richardson, Claire Pollak, Carol White, Penny Stempel, Frances Bowyer, Eileen Smith and Pearl Berry.
The film Mam (1988) was about the history of the women of the Valleys in South Wales, as well as the education and career options open to them in the 1980s.