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5 Must-See Films That Explain Wales to International Students

21st March 2017 Posted by: Emily Owen

WHEN thinking of Wales, the accent, singing, and something to do with sheep probably comes to mind… but whilst the film industry isn’t the first thing people think of, Wales certainly has something to offer. Well established actors such as Sir Anthony Hopkins and Luke Evans originate from Wales, and it continues to produce new talent, such as Game of Thrones star Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton). It’s also where a lot of the TV series Gavin & Stacey was set, pushing James Corden into the limelight.

If you’re thinking of coming to Wales for a visit or to study, here are 5 films you must see that will help to explain what it means to be Welsh.

Pride (2014)

Pride is a comedy-drama film based on a true story, and focuses on the LGBT community during the UK miner’s strike in 1984. With Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy as part of the cast, the film follows lesbian and gay activists who helped raise funds for families in Wales affected during the miner’s strike; the result is an unlikely alliance creating the successful Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners campaign. 

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Based on the 1939 novel by Richard Llewellyn, this drama film spans 50 years as it follows the life of a Welsh coal-mining family, the Morgans. The family lives in the heart of the South Wales Valleys, and the film shows their lives as they suffer strikes, unionisation of the coal industry and child abuse – and the huge effects on them all. This film has made it into the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as it is deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". 

Grand Slam (1978)

This sports comedy film produced by BBC Wales stars Oscar-winning actor Hugh Griffin as a Welsh rugby fan who is searching for an old flame whilst in Paris with his mates – but this is no love story! It’s the last rugby game of the Five Nations Championship, and the match will decide whether France or Wales win the Grand Slam title. As Rugby is the national sport of Wales, the stakes are high both on and off the pitch.

WARNING: This video contains scenes with graphic content.

The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain (1995)

This film is a comedy-drama written and directed by Christopher Monger, and based on a story heard by his grandfather about the real village of Taff’s Well in Glamorgan. Starring Hugh Grant and set in 1917, two English cartographers cause outrage when they conclude that the mountain in the fictional village Ffynnon Garw is a hill due to it being slightly short of the 1000ft height requirement. Proud of having the first true mountain in Wales, the village set out to prove the cartographers wrong.

Twin Town (1997)

Starring Rhys Ifans, Twin Town is an anarchy-laced comedy set in the gritty seaside town of Swansea, “an ugly lovely town” in the words of (famous Welsh poet) Dylan Thomas.  Fatty Lewis is one of the residents, and after he falls of a ladder whilst working on a roof, a family feud entails between the Lewis’ and the roof’s contractor, Bryn Cartwright. Fatty’s trouble-making grandsons Julian and Jeremy (the “twins” of the title, although they’re actually just brothers) go on to wreak havoc in the town, which escalates into violence and tragedy. Graphic and rude, it is also very Welsh!

Once you've watched these, why not check out our must-see films that explain CanadaEngland, and France.

Do you have some favourite films? Let us know on Twitter!

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