Story of Rochdale Pioneers set for big screen

A major new film marking the birth of co-operation is currently being filmed in Rochdale and the Greater Manchester area as part of The Co-operative’s activities to highlight the International Year of Co-operatives.

The 52-minute feature is inspired by the 1944 film ‘Men of Rochdale’ and being made by The
Co-operative British Youth Film Academy (BYFA).

The film, which has the working title 'The Rochdale Pioneers', will be distributed internationally and plans are in place for it to be screened at the Co-operative World Festival at Manchester Central in autumn 2012.

Mark Robinson-Field, The Co-operative’s National Co-operative and Membership Manager, said: “This exciting project is inspired by the original Rochdale pioneers who, in 1844, set out ideals which became the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world still operate to this day.

“There are now approaching one billion members of co-operatives world-wide and, with a thriving co-operative sector enjoying international attention, we believed the time was right for this inspirational story to be re-told.”

John Henshaw (centre) pictured with Brent Snape (left) and Ian Jenkins (right) who live in Rochdale and were keen to be involved in the BYFA movie-making experience that is centred on their home town

John Henshaw (centre) pictured with Brent Snape (left) and Ian Jenkins (right) who live in Rochdale and were keen to be involved in the BYFA movie-making experience that is centred on their home town

 

The co-directors of the new film, Adam Lee Hamilton and John Montegrande, along with its producer, Kevin Atkinson, worked together on the BYFA movie ‘Julius Caesar’ which was nominated for the prestigious Raindance Film Festival in London in October (2011).

Kevin Atkinson, Operations Director of The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy and producer for the new film, said: “BYFA, itself a co-operative, is delighted that its young upcoming filmmakers are working with The Co-operative to engage new audiences in this remarkable story.

“BYFA provides a unique and inspirational opportunity for today’s talented filmmakers and, it is no exaggeration to say that it has changed young lives. This illustrates how co-operative principals such as concern for community, accessibility for all and, education and training remain just as relevant today.

“Through film, we aim to bring the spirit, heart and belief of the original pioneers to a brand new audience.”

Actor John Henshaw plays the role of John Holt, one of the original members of The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers, in the film.

While on-set at Manchester’s, Museum of Science and Industry, Mr Henshaw — well known for roles in Early Doors, Born and Bred, Looking for Eric and, Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, said: “A brilliant initiative, BYFA brings together talented people from all backgrounds and all levels of skill to work hard together to make film — it’s good fun, a pleasure to work on, I am really enjoying it.”

While stage and TV actor John McArdle — known for his roles in Brookside, Merseybeat and Gallowglass has also joined the cast, playing the role of Dr. Dunlop who agreed to rent his premises — an old woollen warehouse — to the Rochdale Pioneers.

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