Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Bred and Born (1983)

British Film Institute

Main image of Bred and Born (1983)
DirectorJoanna Davis
 Mary Pat Leece
Production CompanyFour Corners Films
 BFI Production Board
EditorJoanna Davis
 Mary Pat Leece

Family life in Shadwell in London's East End, with particular reference to four generations of women and how their relationships hold everyday life together.

Show full synopsis

An experimental documentary that reflects on the different kinds of relationship between mother and daughters, and the position of women in the family, in a hybrid, disjointed but always involving way. Produced over a period of four years, Bred and Born emerges from two parallel strands: a women's discussion group about mother-daughter relations at a community centre in East London, and interviews conducted with four generations of working-class women from one family in the East End.

The film intersperses interviews, footage of the family and local area, archive stills, re-enactments, individual narratives, snippets from the discussion and extracts from published materials on the topic. Thus it draws attention to its own representational codes, and highlights the socially and subjectively constructed nature of women's experience.

All the women who speak in the film were to a large degree included in the filmmaking process, with their reactions helping to shape the direction the film took. This leaves a lot of space to think about which parts of the material have been privileged and for what reasons, and how the women perceived their filmic images. They seem to accept their roles within the family as natural or inevitable, but also recognise the limitations of those roles. This awareness is partial, though strong, and it is not until the very end of the film that we can see how the women's consciousness of their position has changed over several years of their attendance at the group discussions. By the end, the women from the East End family start speaking more as complex subjects and less as illustrations of a certain sociological thesis.

Marina Vishmidt

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Four generations of women (4:35)
2. Routines (2:17)
3. Educating girls (4:02)
4. Being a mother (5:57)
Women and Film