Category Archives: Film & TV

The Portrayal of Muslims In the Media, A Personal Response from Amina Elmi


Diversity in the media is already a huge issue that is still largely unsolved. As a Muslim, I have found that Muslims are often neglected from talks about diversity. This article aims to start a discussion on why this is and what needs to be done. Even the smallest gradual change will make a difference and will celebrate Britain as a multi-cultural nation.

In the media, we see Muslims play the role of terrorist number 3, speaking in a foreign tongue to intimidate the viewer. Many television shows and films are guilty of this. It’s tiring, stereotypical and only helps to further Islamophobia rhetoric. If that is the only version of Muslims people see, then it is no wonder that people harbour such negative views to a religion they know little about expect from what the media has shown them. Bigotry flourishes in this environment which is why change is required now more than ever.

As well as spreading prejudiced views, it is also giving the younger generation of Muslims the idea that they do not belong. With little to no representation it leaves young Muslims to perceive that the there is no play for them in the media industry. By excluding them, a whole narrative is missing, a unique perspective that won’t be shared. Yes, anyone can write a Muslim character or play one, but they will not be able to understand the unique British Muslim experience. It’s a whole generation of young people only seeing negative portrayals of themselves and accepting that’s how society sees them.

The solution? Muslims in influential roles such as directors and producers. Perhaps most crucially writers. Muslim writers have the ability to write from their own experiences that would resonate to not just Muslim viewers but to everyone. We have far more common than what divides us. If negative perceptions are tackled, then less people will be influenced by bigotry and unjustified hate. With the creation of more Muslim roles we could have more Muslim actors and actresses breaking into the industry.

However, we have seen an emergence of Muslim characters in the past few years. Riz Ahmed, whose career has exploded in the past year has grown from strength to strength. Raised in a Muslim family, he has starred in the Star Wars and The Night Of, the latter earning him a Golden Globe nomination. He is even an advocate of more representation. I highly recommended his speech to Parliament on the lack of diversity in Britain.

Watch Riz Ahmed warn Parliament about the danger of failing to improve TV diversity

Another example of positive Muslim representation, perhaps the most significant is Kamala Khan. A Marvel female Muslim superhero. It is difficult to get across how outstanding and crucial Ms Marvel (a.k.a Kamala Khan) is. She is the superhero the world needs right now.

I am envious of the young girls who get to grow up with a hero that they can see themselves reflected in. Yet I am more overjoyed that she exists and is inspiring girls all over the world.

However, this is a starting point. We need more positive Muslim representation in the media to overpower the toxic portrayals that are being shown today.

  • Amina Elmi, @queenchester, Young Critic

Review Get Out by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Get Out, in it’s purest striped down form, is about being the odd one out in a crowd and environment. On the next level it is about how race relations have merely been pushed down under the surface, but to be sure, they are still the same.

Our story centers around a young man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who’s a successful black and white photographer in the city and will be visiting his girlfriends Rose (Allison Williams) parents house for the weekend. He is a little nervous about meeting them though, cause he is black and she’s white. They take the drive and hit a deer on the road (never a good sign), when a police officer is taking their information he asks for Chris i.d. too, even though he wasn’t driving (equally not a good sign).

When they get to the house the parents are all too accommodating and enthusiastic. They say all the right things and act how your suppose to, but not in a genuine way. They say and act like they’ve been instructed to, smiling through toothpaste grins and offering a tour of the house simply because that’s what you do.

The performances in this movie are all sharp. Everyone is either grounded normal and convincing in that, or they are just off is a way. Like their smile is too wholesome to be genuine, or when they do it comes with a tilt of the head, making it seem wrong. It’s greatly contrasted by Chris and Rose that are people in the real world so everyone eases is strange behaviour is even more off-setting.

The creation of this movie is like a channeling of the school of Alfred Hitchcock on how to make a suspense. The camera lingers on elements and very little is said that makes the characters intentions clear. There is sharp attention to detail on the sound, most notable with the mother and how she stirs her teacup and clinks the spoon.

Adding to the Hitchcock comparisons is Michael Abels music, which is conceived in the same mindset of Bernard Herman’s score for Psycho. Completely removed from all other instruments than the strings, which make a sharp, shrieking, stabbing sensation.

One of the most surprising elements of the movie is not any of the plot twists or the imagery, but the talent behind it. Jordan Peele, the other half of the comedy duo Key & Peele, one of the most consistently hilarious sketch shows. Here he is writer director with an already deft mastery of handling a feature film. The screenplay is well-crafted, having elements that payoff later, he has bold ideas of what to do with the camera as well as able to get a wide range of performances out of his actors. If there is any complaint I can find with his execution it is that he constantly has his characters talking, instead of letting the images and what’s been said before speak for itself.

In terms of a suspense movie with shocks, it is extremely well crafted and acted. As a stylised portrayal of race relations, it’s more tricky to comment on. Recent times have shown that strong racial inequality feeling have been far from whipped out and have merely been pushed down and can come back given the chance. This movie probably serves as a reminder for that if anything else and we need to be reminded so we never fall back on our mistakes.

Review Beauty and the Beast by Sian Thomas

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Like everyone else,  I have my favourite Disney movie and my favourite Disney princess. Beauty and the Beast has never really been one of my favourite tales. Something about the story always seemed to spook me, in a way that made me wary or apprehensive. Also, I was never as bookish as I am now, and I suppose I couldn’t relate to Belle in the way I can, now.

I want to start by saying that the film was visually stunning. It was, in all honesty, gorgeous. This includes the CGI, the minute details, the outfits. Everything. There was so much detail and so much effort put into the intricacy of the entire film that I was blown away entirely. I was in awe, so much so there were times throughout the film I felt that I’d left behind my cinema seat and been somewhere else entirely, somewhere within the story itself.

The story was the same, obviously. Though, there were newer elements added in to account for some of the plot-holes in the animated movie. I think the last time I watch Beauty and the Beast was at least three years ago. I remember that I did like it, I never completely disliked it, but I always had my disdain about the tale. This time around however, I was completely engrossed, and I liked it much more than I remembered ever feeling so before.

The songs were incredible. I don’t have much else to say about them, because in all honestly I just really and truly loved them.

I had already heard a lot about the film including a gay character. Which it did, and I was definitely glad about it. It was a lot more subtle than I had expected, though. And I had thought that the gigantic franchise that is Disney would, for sure, go a little bigger with it. I wasn’t let down, per se, I very much loved that it was included. And subtlety isn’t technically something bad, either. I had just definitely assumed that it would have been bigger. It didn’t meet my expectations, but was still great and wonderful to see on the big screen.

The movie was grand, with some parts that were truly tragic and some completely exuberant. I give it 4 stars.

Get the Chance announced as runners up in the Celebrating Diversity Award at this years Epic Awards


Get the Chance  have been announced as runners up in the Celebrating Diversity Award at the 2017 Epic Awards organised by Voluntary Arts. The ceremony took place on Sunday the 19th March at the Sage Gateshead as part of BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival.

 The Epic Awards were set up in 2010 by Voluntary Arts, an organisation that works across the UK and Republic of Ireland to promote participation in creative cultural activities. They celebrate the amazing contribution voluntary-led creative groups make to their communities.

The Celebrating Diversity Award is selected from across the full shortlist of 32 groups by a panel of judges representing  teams in each nation. This award celebrates groups that have taken an innovative approach to highlighting the positive effects that come from living in a diverse society and is something that is central to the work that Voluntary Arts does all year round. Get the Chance were unanimously praised by the Epic Awards judges for

The project’s unique approach to encouraging a diversity of voices

 Guy O’Donnell, Director of Get the Chance said;

Get the Chance is honoured to be selected as runners up in the Celebrating Diversity Award. We strive to reflect the diverse nature of society in our voluntary membership. We learn from our team about barriers to sport and cultural provision and seek to work together to provide responses which are representative of all citizens in the UK.”

Membership of Get the Chance is free for further details please contact Guy O’Donnell, Director of Get the Chance

Get The Chance



Review Logan by Jonathan Evans

“You can run for a long time,

Run on for a long time,

Run on for a long,

Sooner or later God’ll cut you down,

Sooner or later God’ll cut down.”

-Johnny Cash, God’s Gonna Cut you Down

We are in the year, 2029, where Mutants have seemingly disappeared, or are at the edge of extinction. Wolverine’s years are beginning to show, wrinkles are more prominent, his hair is faded with a few whites as-well. Plus his healing factor is withering, he can still spit out bullets, but not at the efficient speed he once did, all the years are finally catching up to him. He’s living a life on the down-low, driving a limo, then he goes to a rusted shack where an albino named Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and a very withered Charles Xavier lives. Possibly suffering from Alzheimer’s, its unclear.

This easily has the most mature content of any of the X-Men movies. There is regular alcohol consumption, swearing (of the four letter kind) from everyone and serious, brutal action sequences. The filmmakers clearly decided that if this is their last hurrah, then they’re going out without any soft-punches.

Hugh Jackman has been playing the role of Wolverine since 2000 and has had a small role in just about ever X-Men movie. This is as much his swan song as it is for that character. He has given a lot to the role constantly having to be in-shape and energetic, which gets harder and harder to do the older you get. He is able to add, subtle tenderness as-well as gruffness to this withered character that is just plain tired and needs a rest. The whole movie is about wanting to reach a goal, or looking back and realizing you unfulfilled dreams. This is also the bleakest of nearly any Superhero movie I’ve seen. But still, there is a the noble drive to the character that wont stand to see innocents oppressed.

He is successfully keeping a low profile when a strange woman finds him, saying she needs his help, he quickly refuses but when money is offered he agrees. The jobs is the transportation of a young girl across the border.

The girl is named Laura, who has similar powers to Wolverine, for the fans of the comics they will know her as “X-23” (which she is eventually confirmed as). I wont dare spoil the details of her origin here but it is a very good inclusion of the X-Men lore. Dafne Keen plays this very complex character extremely well. She needs to have the unassuming curiosity of a child, the quiet stillness of a bad-ass as well as threatening savagery. The character is a great highlight to be written in the movie and she brilliantly brings it to life between two elderly, accomplished actors.

The action scenes in this movie work just as good on their buildup as the actual fights themselves. They are like seeing an animal being chased and then cornered until they have to attack with all fangs and claws. Wolverine is slower, both in movement and healing than he has ever been so it would be best to avoid the fights, but he is pushed so the claws must be drawn. At this point in movie history we’ve really seen it all with action movies, two people, many people, with any weapon or and setting, we’ve seen it before. Over the course of watching X-Men movies you will have seen a man with blades in his hand’s fight soldiers, and it’s variations. These scenes work because we feel them, you can see that force delivered and felt by Wolverine you hear the bones break and the cutting of the flesh. It all adds to the do-or-die nature of the whole movie.

This is the movie to end the character and the actors journey with them. Through it you will feel, you’ll find small moments to laugh at, many more to sadden and shock you. But none of the scenes go by without invoking emotion and these aren’t healed over so easily.

Review King Kong, Skull Island by Jonathan Evans

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Kong: Skull Island was made in the same way Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim was. As a love letter to they’re influences and bringing enthusiasm and justice to the genre that the filmmakers loved when they were children and wanted to make the best movie they could. This works because they clearly know what it is and builds itself around that and never divulges from it. It knows that it’s tongue is very firmly placed in it’s cheek.

Our opening scene is a beach in 1944 where two pilots crash land. One is an American, the other Japanese, they waist no time in trying to kill each-other. Their fight becomes a chase that ends on a cliff top where they meet a giant creature that makes them and their conflict seem so puny by comparison. Then a news montage takes us to 1973, America has lost the Vietnam war and two people are seeking funding for a expedition to Skull Island.

Usually in these movies the monsters are the stars and the thing that everyone wants to see. That’s still true here only they’ve put effort into the human characters, they have fun personalities and quips that make you like them. They’re not deep, extremely troubled and complex Shakespearean characters, far from it, but they are engaging. First up is John Goodman as Randa, the one that gets the whole operation going, Tom Hiddleston is James Conrad (a play on Joseph Conrad perhaps?) a tracker that is brought in to survive the wilderness of the island. Samuel L. Jackson is a war vet from Vietnam that is carrying a grudge that America “abandoned” the war. Brei Larson is a photojournalist who’s more than up for a dangerous, interesting trek, once again adding plenty of fun and personality to the mix. There are other soldiers and characters but to name them and describe them all would take-up too much space, but they are memorable and have fun, quippy moments.

When the characters get to Skull Island in helicopters no time is wasted in dropping bombs to get the layout of the land. This quickly gets the attention of the king, Kong. This is the Kong that fights Godzilla, not the original that was the size of a house, this one’s the size a skyscraper. He quickly makes quick work of the helicopters so now it’s a case of survival for the people to make it out of the island alive.

Of course it is not just Kong on the island. It is inhabited with very large, very dangerous creatures. I wont spoil it buy adding descriptions of any of them, but they are quite imaginative and wildly designed.

If this movie has anything to thank beyond the original King Kong movie or the Kaiju genre it is Apocalypse Now. The filmmakers clearly drew inspiration for much of the tone and imagery used in it. Being that it’s the same time-period helps, so it’s not out-of-place or influence for the sake of it.

Like Apocalypse Now this comes with a very pleasing colour pallet. Rich primary colours like reds, blues, greens and yellow’s saturate the screen with shading of true blacks that add contrast and add that threatening tone to the whole thing. Another of the similar creative choices is the use of rock music of the time. Adding a fun vibe to the movie.

Adding once again to the Apocalypse Now channeling is John C. Riley as the solider from the opening. He is like Dennis Hopper’s photographer character who has become very deranged with his time spent in the jungle among the natives. He’s spent years on the island so he knows how it works so he provides helpful information to both the characters and the audience and more than a few rather funny moments.

What makes giant monsters fighting truly engaging is conveying the scale of these massive creatures going at it. All the truly big creatures move a little slower than a human would, adding gravity to what they do, also all their actions are big actions, a punch, footstep and splash is a seismic event from our perspective. Then it all has to be conveyed in big, biblical painting-like images, which these are. This movie does it’s monsters justice.

If I would have had this movie as a kid it would have been played constantly. Seeing it as an adult, it takes me back to that state of being giddy in my chair and owe for creatures unlike any that have ever existed. This movie is not the reinvention, but the perfection of the genre.

An Interview with Rachel Williams Development Producer, BBC Writers room – Wales

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Rachel Williams, Development Producer, BBC Writers room – Wales. We discussed Rachel’s career to date, opportunities for Welsh and Wales based writers and the exciting new plans for BBC Writersroom Wales.

Hi Rachel great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hi , I grew up in Church Village and went to primary school in Treforest, Pontypridd. I did a degree in English at Birmingham University and started out working as a music writer and journalist, and music radio producer before moving into factual television and directing on documentary and Arts series such as The Culture Show and Channel 4’s Cutting Edge. When I had my first child I came back to Wales and moved into TV development – I was Head of development for BBC documentaries where amongst other things I developed Factual drama including Jack Thorne’s ‘Don’t Take My Baby’ for BBC3. Telling fictional stories appeals to me for many reasons but mostly because you can go deep into the story and structure. I feel very privileged to be able to read scripts and work with writers as part of my day job – and also to have licence to  watch drama box sets guilt free!

So what got you interested in the arts?

I think my primary school St Michaels in Treforest first sparked a love for the Arts – I still remember my inspirational English teacher Mrs. White and the inventive way she taught creative writing and poetry. I think the Eisteddfod was another huge influence – I was billeted with a family in North Wales to perform at the national Eisteddfod – which was an amazing experience and my first exposure to the Welsh language. I think it’s great that Wales has such a strong culture of valuing and supporting the arts.

You are coordinating the BBC Writersroom Wales, what are the plans for this new initiative?

Writersroom Wales has been set up with the aim of developing new and established writing talent in Wales, to find tangible opportunities for writers across the genres and to help develop more diverse stories about contemporary Wales on network drama and comedy. I started in the role just before Christmas and we are also looking to appoint a freelance script editor/ producer who can work across Welsh language submissions. One of my first jobs is to set up the first BBC Welsh Writers Festival – an event that will bring together the Welsh writing community and launch the Writersroom in Wales. We are also planning an inventive launch event and writers workshop in North Wales in the summer in partnership with Radio Cymru and other partners. We hope to have regular one off writing events, writers residentials for writing commissions. We are going to set up a Writers development programme and work closely with Arts organisations from National Theatre Wales to Fio to It’s My Shout to support and develop writing talent.

You have organised a Writers Festival on Friday the 24th of March at Chapter Arts Centre, I wonder if you can tell us more about this event?

This is the first BBC Welsh Writers Festival and is modelled on the annual BBC TV Drama Writers festival. We wanted to gather the Welsh writing community together and give them some inspiration, ideas and information about opportunities and also to announce that the Writersroom has landed in Wales. We are putting on a mixture of craft and Q&A sessions giving writers an introduction to everything from Children to Comedy, Radio drama and TV drama. Andrew Davies will chair the day with a Q&A on his writing career followed by a craft session on adaptation, talking about War and Peace. We will also have a Q&A from the brilliant Lucy Gannon who will talk about her writing career across TV and radio. We have sessions on everything from Dr Who to Casualty and Welsh language drama like Hinterland. I’m really excited about the sessions on Comedy Drama and Representing Wales at the end of the day which will be a vital chance to hear from writers and programme makers about the current landscape and hopefully provoke some lively discussion.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists or specifically writers?
I’m not aware of barriers,  although arguably there is always a class barrier to becoming ‘a writer’ in the first place. I know there are people in Wales doing brilliant work with under represented communities. The Iris Prize in particular is a fantastic success story that has an international reputation. But I do think there’s a sense that English language drama about Wales has not always reflected the diversity of contemporary Wales. It would be great to see some more diverse stories of Wales on screen – whether that’s about the Somali community in Bute Town or the Italian Welsh community in the Valleys – from a wider range of perspectives. The Writersroom have just produced a second series of the Break for BAME writers – and the next series is coming out of Scotland. It would be great if it could come to Wales the following year.

There are range of organisations currently supporting Welsh and Wales based writers, have you met with any of them? How do you see BBC Writersroom Wales working with the current support network for writers?

In the first few months of the job I’ve tried to meet as many dramatic writing related organisations as I can from Ffilm Cymru to theatrical institutions such as Theatr Clwyd and National Theatre Wales. There are already people doing brilliant work in terms of writer support and development such as the Sherman Theatre who run a well respected writer development programme – we don’t want to step on any toes and duplicate work that is already being done. The question for me is how can we work and support existing structures and is there a need for something else that is not currently being addressed? Identifying that need is the sweet spot for the Writersroom – we are here to help fill that gap. But the key thing for us is that any initiative we set up has to have a tangible outcome for the writers at the end of it – whether that it is a slot on radio, TV or online.

Director General of the BBC Tony Hall

The deficit of English Language drama produced by the BBC reflecting the diversity of the citizens of Wales is a cause for concern. Is this something you will be tackling in your new role?
This is an issue that has been identified by Tony Hall and this is partly why BBC Writersroom has been set up in Wales – to nurture and develop the next generation of story tellers writing about Wales. The recent announcement of an additional £8.5m funding for programming in Wales – as well as a new £2m development fund for comedy, drama and factual in the Nations – should be a real boost and help generate new drama and comedy coming from Wales.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

We already have brilliant writers here working in theatre and radio – what would be great is if there was a vehicle for talented new writers to develop and hone their writing. So much of good writing is about craft – understanding story telling and the beats that make good drama – and this is definitely something that can be refined. Russell T Davies talked about learning to write on daytime drama The Grand – for the first time writing a scene entirely in subtext. I know these sort of long running drama strands are expensive but perhaps we could experiment with form – do it online or in a drama podcast?

What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
I love the vibrant theatre scene in Wales, which is full of talented actors and writers. I recently saw Lucy Rivers’ Sinners Club at the Other Room – visceral, immersive ‘gig theatre’ that told a factual story in a clever and layered way. She wrote and performed it – and for what was essentially a monologue the pace never lagged. It’s going to be showing at Theatr Clwyd next. Watching theatre at the Other Room always feels like a treat, as it’s such a small intimate venue.


Thanks for your time Rachel.

Review A Cure for Wellness by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This movie, if nothing else, succeeds in creating atmosphere. While you are watching the scenes unfolds you absolutely have a sense of how it feels to be there. What temperature the rooms are, how the objects feel and how much dread you should be feeling. A Cure for Wellness is a Gothic tale that put’s before us the human condition of comfort over accomplishment and accomplishment over being fulfilled. Along for the ride are some truly disturbing images, suspenseful buildups and intricately designed visuals.

Our tale starts at night, where a man is working high in a building in New York, typing code into a computer, he receives a letter with a mysterious emblem on it, then suffers a fatal heart attack. Because of this a young ladder-climber named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) takes over his position. The letter is read, it is from a man named Roland Pembroke that is an important CEO to the company, in the letter he writes about the sick nature of the human condition he found himself in and now that he has found peace in his wellness center, he will not return. The members of the board all concur that he’s gone loony but they need him for a merger, so it falls on Lockhart to bring him back.

It becomes obvious very quickly that Lockhart (we never learn his first name), is a dedicated and hardworking individual but is not happy, he has none to create a personal life with and is direct and to the point always.

When he gets there the staff are a little to good at their job and proficient to be natural, all the clients are blissful elderly people from all over the world. The center itself has a very interesting history that is told in-part to him by his driver and the rest is revealed later. He is past visiting hours so he must come back tomorrow. On his way back a deer runs in-front of the car, causing a crash. He then wakes in the center, a cast now on his leg.

Like Verbinski’s last movie there is the use of water as a key theme. In that movie it was the desired substance of life, here it’s in bountiful supply, only there’s a questioning of how healthy it really is.

In order for a movie location to be memorable or even become a character in the film it needs to be distinctive and have personality. This is one of those locations, the wellness center is a place that is too damn clean, in some places and others is a shaking, metallic organism and in others a ancient Gothic tomb. All these different themes of the same building feed into the many goals of it and both serves the plot and express the mood of the scene.

I like this movie for the same reason I like Dark City. Because it simultaneously has a mystery plot that peels itself back one layer at a time until we finally get to the truth and stands as visual nourishment. This is a movie with themes that feed into what is onscreen and shows us things that will move you on the images alone. We have become too complacent with seeing things onscreen, we need to feel things when we see them in a movie. These images will accomplish this.

Like any well constructed movie the sound is intricately designed. Every object and action has a sound and it is captured in razor sharp detail. Everything from the pipes moaning, the drip, drip, dripping of a tap or the creak of crutches when weight is applied to them.

Then adding life to the rest of the mood is Benjamine Wallfisch with the score. At times, it a is dancing fairy-tale, while others are filled with movements of low frequencies that will unsettle you in your seat and others where it becomes a teeth-shattering and panic inducing.

This movie has an 18 certificate and it is earned. This is a dark tale with more than disturbing images on-screen as well as leaving other moments to the imagination. Along with all of that there is the mystery of the building and its true intentions which you will need a strong stomach for. Plus all of these things are wrapped together with the theme of reflecting on human nature, of being complacent and ignorant or reliant and unfulfilled.

There are moments that don’t add up, others that can be cut out and sometimes when it embellishes itself on the gore and/or the more obvious scary elements it goes past the line and becomes too much. But like Argento’s Suspiria, as an experience of movie watching, as something that has images that move and sounds that resonate within you, it is undeniably effective.

BSL Video, Why not join Get the Chance? with Steph Back

This video features Get the Chance member Steph Back inviting you to join our team. The BSL transcript is below.

Hi my name is Steph Back.

I am a member of Get the Chance. Get the Chance support members of the public to access sport and cultural events such as gigs, the theatre and performances. The members then review the activity they have attended. All of the reviews are posted on the Get the Chance website
Get the Chance wants to support new deaf/hearing impaired critics. Get the Chance can run free workshops teaching you about how to be a critic.

If you are interested in getting involved you need to contact Guy O’Donnell, The Director of Get the Chance.

You can email him at or text him on 07703 729079. Get the Chance also has a Facebook group and you can get in touch there as well.

Thank You.

An interview with artist Ruby Walker on the Strictly Cinema project Bridgend


Our project coordinator recently spoke to Bridgend based artist Ruby Walker. Ruby discussed the Strictly Cinema project in Maesteg Town Hall, Bridgend, community access to cultural provision and fancy dress!

Hi Ruby great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I studied illustration in Wrexham and by fate ended in Cardiff, after being excepted on the Welsh development agency’s program, I was successful in obtaining a grant from the Princes Youth Business Trust to set up as a freelance illustrator. Through my work other opportunities became present. Art direction, set painting and other visual mediums in television, film, theatre and the arts changed my direction. I became involved in project’s with HTV drama workshops, S4C, Cardiff council and the Welsh National Opera.  In 2000 I went abroad to Australia, Thailand and Greece and returned in 2005.  Since my return my day job is Art Materials Specialist/Visual merchandising for the Pen and Paper Stationery Company in Royal Arcade. I have been a volunteer for Strictly Cinema since last November, and became a member of the board this year. Film is my guilty pleasure as those who know me I’m obsessed with film history that includes Welsh history in this equation.

So what got you interested in the arts?

Drawing started when I was six, people joked I had paint for blood. But my other passion was Cinema I saw The Red Shoes at a very early age I was transfixed by this incredible visual feast of colour and movement. I never really wanted any other job as I was lucky I knew some form of art was for me. So I guess I’ve been involved all my life, and will carry on creating, learning and developing.

Strictly Cinema is described a “unique ‘social cinema’ event combining Cinema, Dance/Bingo and Food and takes place last Wed of every month at Maesteg Town Hall.” It sounds great can you tell us more?

I had been looking to be involved in a cinema project since I moved to Bridgend two years ago. Ceri Evans manager with Awen the local cultural trust directed me to Strictly Cinema. It is unique. A day time event offering film, buffet, special features, bingo and raffle. What’s important is the social experience for our customer’s. Making new friendships, seeing new films in such a beautiful building as the town hall. We involve the customers with the film choices, and add there thoughts and ideas to inspire future programs. Our last event featured the silent movie ‘Maid of Cefn Ydfa’ by silent filmmaker William Haggar based on the true story of local girl Ann Thomas with live harp, plus locally made ‘Very Annie Mary’ director Sara Sugarman. Most of our audience either knew someone in the film, or have great memories of the places featured in the film. Great talking points for the day.


The project seems very community focused, I believe you have shown community made films prior to the main feature, do you think involving local communities is important?

If any thing if its locally made it’s of great interest to our customers. Our main facilitator on such features is Andre Van Wyk who works as an Arts development Officer for Bridgend Council, a role which he is extremely passionate about. Usually on the day we collate new stories of interest though talking with our customer’s, and discuss the details in our committee meetings. There are always gems in the mix that’s what makes it so inspired. It’s of great importance to voice local stories, it keeps local history alive.


Ruby with volunteers in fancy dress at a showing of Casablanca

In your personal opinion what sort of support networks are there for projects of this nature in Wales? Can more be done?

There  can always  be more done! Cuts to the Arts are the norm. We recently received a grant through Film Hub Wales and the Audience Development Fund. Thinking creatively is a complex maze and if you think your idea is inspired with research, advice and knowledge it’s achievable.

Finally bringing us up to date, what have you got coming up next?

Our next feature is ‘The Proud Valley ‘ on the 29th March. The film starts 11am and the event finishes around 2.30pm. Booking is essential via

We will also have some very special activity for this performance we will be screening a pre-film interview with the family descendants of Welsh actress Rachel Thomas.

“Rachel Thomas, film and television actress, best remembered for her role as a miner’s wife in the film ‘Proud Valley’. In 1968 she starred in the television version of How Green Was My Valley and in 1971 appeared in the film version of Under Milk Wood, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. She was also a mainstay of Pobl y Cwm, the BBC Wales television soap opera.”

We have also just confirmed that Tony Mullins (Maesteg Operatic Society) will be performing some Paul Robeson spirituals as well!

Thanks Ruby, sounds great, see you there!