A key example of the social issues filmmaking of the Britain’s famous 1930s Documentary Movement, consisting of two neatly intertwined stories, ‘starring’ non-actors and based on their real life experience of establishing two social enterprises. Ruby Grierson directs the first, which follows a women’s group’s conversion of a barn into a community centre in South Cerney, Gloucestershire. The second, by Ralph Bond, observes unemployed coalminers as they build an occupational centre in Pentre, in the Rhondda Valley.
The film was produced by Paul Rotha, one of the the movement’s most important figures. Although funded by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), the film adeptly resists sentimentality or triumphalism, and is notable for its sympathetic depiction of the two communities. The shots in the Rhondda sequence of men on a windswept slagheap have been re-used countless times in later films and programmes as one of the iconic images of the Great Depression.
Today We Live is also available on the BFI DVD collection Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement 1930-1950.