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Mam (1988)

Courtesy of Red Flannel Films

Main image of Mam (1988)
Production CompanyRed Flannel Productions
SponsorChannel Four
For Red FlannelPearl Berry
 Frances Bowyer
 Clare Richardson
 Michelle Ryan
 Caroline Stone
 Carol White

Documentary history of the role of the mother in Welsh society from the beginning of the industrial age to the 1980s. Uses interviews, drama and archive films and photographs.

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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.

Research for Mam (Red Flannel Productions, 1988) revealed how little material was available on women's involvement with political and social life in South Wales, through two world wars and massive strike action. Even at the miners' library, most of the interviews with women were about their fathers and sons. To redress this imbalance, the filmmakers became simultaneously producers, collators and distributors of this history. Women have always played an active role in the transmission of culture, telling stories, passing on rituals and traditions, creating myths and constructing imaginary worlds for their children. This film is a testament to these stories. Multiple women's voices are represented, in an attempt to undermine the perceived objectivity of the documentary format.

Mam was made in a workshop situation, and its production was both a shared activity and learning experience for women in South Wales. The first screening of the film was to a full house at the Parc and Dare in Treochy. The response has been described as tremendous and inspirational. It was used in schools and colleges, and screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival and eventually acquired by the British Council and shown internationally.

Emma Hedditch

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Video Clips
1. Introduction (4:01)
2. Women's education (2:40)
3. The strike (3:50)
Red Flannel Films
Channel 4 and Film
Women's Film and Video Collectives