Cinenova: The Work We Share – Programme 4

Women of the Rhondda, dirs. Esther Ronay, Mary Kelly, Mary Capps, Humphrey Trevelyan, Margaret Dickinson, Brigid Seagrave & Susan Shapiro, UK 1972, 20 min., English

Date: Sunday 20 March 2022

Time: 4:30

Venue: ICA, Cinema 1


Films: School Without End (Scuola senza fine), Adriana Monti, Italy, 1983, 16mm digital transfer, 40 minutes, Italian with English subtitles 

Women of the Rhondda, Esther Ronay, Mary Kelly, Mary Capps, Humphrey Trevelyan, Margaret Dickinson, Brigid Seagrave, Susan Shapiro, UK, 1972, 16mm digital transfer, 20 minutes, English

This final programme of The Work We Share, showcasing 10 newly digitised films from the Cinenova collection, features two short documentaries dealing with working class women’s experiences in Italy and the UK during the 1970s. Both films are built upon oral history, voicing women’s accounts of their working lives, depicting the historical and political context in which they live. While revealing how much their existence is impacted by those contexts, the works also call attention to how women are heavily bound to their roles as daughters, sisters, mothers. 

The screening will be followed by a conversation with London-based artist, curator, educator and occasional DJ Barby Asante.

School Without End (1983) focuses on an extraordinary group of Italian women enrolled in Adult Education. A collaboration between filmmaker Adriana Monti and the students, the film is constructed as a place of communion and conviviality, where women meet, eat and laugh, and talk about their lives. More than formal education, the course offered them a place removed from their routine, where they encountered each other. From there, they went on to learn about self-expression and collective listening, to reflect about class and society, to discover their own potential and the importance of becoming oneself.

Women of the Rhondda (1972) is a collectively directed film, composed of interviews with women from the Rhondda Valley coal mining community in South Wales, who speak about the experience of growing up and living in mining families during the first half of the twentieth century. These are stories of poverty, appalling working and living conditions, narrated with impressive sharpness and judgement. The lack of recognition of their domestic and social duties, compared to the mining work performed by their male counterparts, leads them to an acute awareness of the need of political organisation.