In 1968, the female workers at Dagenham’s Ford factory in the UK went on strike in protest of what they perceived to be sexual discrimination. Rita O’Grady led nearly two hundred women to protest their primitive working conditions and their long and arduous hours. But the straw that broke the camel’s back – and turned a bunch of ordinary working ladies into passionate advocates for equal pay – was Ford’s decision to classify them as unskilled workers.
Nigel Cole, whose Calendar Girls had a brash, populist touch, has dramatized this incident in British labour history and turned it into a vibrant, uplifting story about a group of working stiffs who happen to be women. Rita (Sally Hawkins, also starring in Mike Leigh’s Another Year) is rather meek and mild-mannered, and primarily sees herself as a wife and a mother. She and her fellow workers manage to keep their spirits high through good-natured banter and a wonderful sense of camaraderie. One day, she is persuaded by her union rep (Bob Hoskins) to attend a meeting with the local shop steward and Ford’s head of Industrial Relations. Asked to meekly nod and smile, Rita is amazed to discover that she has a voice, and a rather strong one at that, when her blood boils at what she hears in the meeting. Outraged at the lack of respect shown to her and her co-workers, she sets out to find justice.
Intercut with documentary footage of the Dagenham factory, the strike and its resolution – which involved Rita and her friends meeting with Minister of Labour, Barbara Castle – Cole and his spirited cast take us into the hearts and minds of these resolute women, who begin to realize that David actually stands a chance against Goliath. The inspirational story of a group of women who challenge a corrupt and unjust system, Made in Dagenham is a delightful mix of female banter, male bluster and poker-faced negotiation. –TIFF
Nigel Cole (born 1959) is a British film and television director.
Cole began his career in the 1980s, directing current affairs shows and documentaries for Central Independent Television. Into the 1990s, Cole co-wrote the play Sod with Arthur Smith, which he also directed and presented at the Pleasance during the 1993 Edinburgh Festival. Cole has also directed episodes of Peak Practice and Cold Feet for television, and Saving Grace, Calendar Girls and A Lot Like Love for cinema. His latest film, Made in Dagenham was released in 2010.
Saving Grace won the World Cinema Audience Award at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and gained him a nomination for Best Director at that year’s British Independent Film Awards. Made in Dagenham received a BAFTA nomination as Best British Film and a nomination for the Satellite Award for Best Film – Musical or Comedy. —Wikipedia
Title: Made in Dagenham
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Director: Nigel Cole
Writer: William Ivory