The first collection of the wonderfully diverse and entertaining films of the National Coal Board Film Unit is released on DVD on 21 September 2009 as part of a major new BFI project, This Working Life: King Coal – A Century of British Coalmining on Screen.
This September, the BFI launches This Working Life, an ambitious three-year project that will explore and celebrate Britain’s 20th century industrial heritage on screen and its impact on our social, economic and political life. Beginning with coal mining, it will continue with the shipbuilding and steel industries in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Elemental, visual, dramatic: coal mining is not only deeply cinematic, but as a huge part of British life for centuries, has profoundly shaped our society. The BFI DVD collection Portrait of a Miner showcases and celebrates the extraordinary work of the National Coal Board Film Unit which operated from 1947-1984, producing films to inform, entertain and galvanise working people across the country.
From intimate drama-documentaries and sublime safety cartoons to the sheer pleasure of the topical tales from the Mining Review cinemagazine, this collection is a beguiling invitation into the domestic, community and working life of miners and their families.
With stories from coal fields across Scotland, Wales and England – from pit ponies to brass bands, cutter loaders to the five-day week – this 2-disc set presents over 5 hours of re-mastered material, and contains an extensive bound book featuring newly commissioned contributions from Lee Hall (writer of Billy Elliot), the BFI’s curators and other researchers.
As well as the DVD release, This Working Life: King Coal will feature a Film & TV Season at BFI Southbank running throughout September of newly preserved and rarely-seen films from both the documentary and fiction collections in the BFI National Archive. A season will also run at the Sheffield Showroom cinema. The season launches at BFI Southbank on 8 September at 6.30pm in NFT1 with On the Face of It: A Century of Coalmining on Screen, presented by Lee Hall. A programme drawn from all the material will go on tour around the UK.
Release date: 21 September 2009
RRP: DVD £24.99 / cat. no. BFIVD851 / cert 15
UK / 1947-1978 / black and white, and colour / English, optional subtitles for the hearing-impaired / 347 mins / DVD9 / original aspect ratio 1.33:1
BFI DVDs are available from all good retailers; by mail order from the BFI Filmstore Tel: 020 7815 1350 or online at www.bfi.org.uk/filmstore
Portrait of a Miner – Disc One
Mining Review 1st Year No 1 (1947)
King Coal (1948)
Nines Was Standing (1950)
‘Miners Health Centre’, from Mining Review 2nd Year No 3 (1948)
Mining Review 2nd Year No 10 (1949)
Mining Review 2nd Year No 12 (1949)
Plan for Coal (1952)
The Shovel (1953)
‘Time Out’ from Mining Review 7th Year No 8 (1954)
‘Balletomines’ from Mining Review 7th Year No 12 (1954)
‘Hungarians in Britain’ from Mining Review 10th Year No 8 (1957)
New Power In Their Hands (1959)
Mining Review 13th Year No 4 (1959)
‘Stormy Genius’ from Mining Review 13th Year No 8 (1960)
Arthur Clears the Air (1961)
‘Whitehaven Whippets’ from Mining Review 15th Year No 7 (1962)
Mining Review 16th Year No 6 (1963)
Portrait of a Miner – Disc Two
Songs of the Coalfields (1964)
Big Job (1965)
Portrait of a Miner (1966)
Nobody’s Face (1966)
The First Adventures of ‘Thud and Blunder’ (1964)
Mining Review 20th Year No 9 (1967)
Hands, Knees and Bumps a Daisy (1969)
Mining Review 22nd Year No 5 (1969)
What About That Job? (Case Studies for Management No 1) (1970)
The Bother Breeder (Case Studies for Management No 4) (1970)
Man Failure (1971)
I’ll See You (Too Late Now No 2) (1976)
A Beautiful Memory (Too Late Now No 3) (1976)
You Pick the Moment (Too Late Now No 4) (1976)
Review 32nd Year No 1 (1978)
40 Years On (1978)
BFI Southbank Mezzanine Display: King Coal
At BFI Southbank a two month exhibition running 6 August – 4 October will feature posters, photographs and related materials offering further insights into the rich history of this little known area of British documentary film-making.
This Working Life: King Coal on tour
A touring version of the film season will be available for booking by community groups across the UK, including local film societies and working men’s clubs in former mining areas.
This Working Life: King Coal at BFI Mediatheques
King Coal at the BFI Mediatheques (BFI Southbank and QUAD, Derby) will feature a collection of 40 titles, including a selection not available in any other part of the project.