Banwen is a small village in the heart of the South Wales Valleys. It is relatively unknown to most people, except maybe now for actors Bill Nighy, Dominic West and Andrew Scott.
A mining village, Banwen and the surrounding communities were hit hard by the closing of coal mines by Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980’s, and so like many other mining villages around Britain, decided along with National Union of Mineworkers to go on strike in protest of the closures. But one thing that many people don’t remember about the strike is the support the miners and their families received from the gay and lesbian community.
During the Gay Pride March in London in June 1984 a collection was organised by the LGBT to support the miners, which eventually lead to the formation of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM).
One villager even said “If it wasn’t for their support, we’d never have survived”.
The reason I’ve mentioned Banwen however, out of all the villages that went on strike is that BBC, along with film company Pathe’s have decided to use Banwen as the location to film ‘Pride’ a drama-comedy film set during the 1984-5 miners’ strike. It follows a group of gay and lesbian activists who raise money for the miners, but after the National Union of Mineworkers are reluctant and embarrassed to accept their money, they travel to a Welsh mining village and hand them the donation in person.
The film is directed by Tony Award winning British director Matthew Warchus and cast members include Bill Nighy and Sherlock’s Andrew Scott as well as Dominic West, Paddy Considine and Harry Potter actress Imelda Staunton.
Asked about the film Matthew Warchus said it was a script he ‘couldn’t say no to.
‘It’s a truly affirming and inspiring story, funny, honest and moving, and by the end of it you want to punch the air and cheer.’
Banwen is such a small village, I for one was extremely excited that they were filming here and on the street I grew up, but one thing I wasn’t expecting was for the directors’ chair to be literally on my doorstep.
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