23 Awesome Welsh Movies

Celebrating the land of the leeks

Above Us The Earth (1977)

The Movie: Filmmaker Karl Francis breaks the cinema silence over the pit closures of the 1970s and ‘80s with this dramatic documentary, which focuses on the closure of the Ogilvie Colliery in Rhymney Valley.

The Awesome: Francis takes great care in tracking the different paths of those involved in the closures, from the union workers to the local leadership.

Welsh Reference: Like many Welsh films, this one revolves around mining – a prevailing symbol for Welsh working life.

Twin Town (1997)

The Movie: Comedy starring Rhys Ifans in his first major movie role. Along with real-life brother Llr Ifans, they're siblings who sniff glue, steal cars and smoke dope.

The Awesome: Rough and ready, this is a stellar, little-seen gem from the Welsh film industry. Rhys’ increasing renown should fix that.

Welsh Reference: The coffin of the twins’ father is respectfully covered with a Welsh flag.

The Proud Valley (1940)

The Movie: Unconventional drama in which an African American man working as a miner in Wales joins a male voice choir.

The Awesome: Depicting the harshness of life in the mines, this drama gets right down to street level and has an ending that will leave a sizeable lump in your throat.

Welsh Reference: More mining action...

David (1951)

The Movie: A 40 minute short film shot in black and white, David centres on former pitman Dafydd Rhys and how he helped rebuild the country’s economy after the second World War.

The Awesome: Though a spectacularly depressing thought, David ’s celebrations of post-war community reveal a loss of such values in modern society.

Welsh Reference: It's all in the title.

Hedd Wyn (1992)

The Movie: Anti-war epitaph helmed by Paul Turner, following the life and final days of poet Ellis Humphrey Evans (Huw Garmon), who was killed during the First World War.

The Awesome: With its stark cinematography and romantic poetry, Hedd Wyn is sumptuous and earth-shaking. No wonder it got nominated for an Oscar.

Welsh Reference: It’s a biopic of a real Welsh poet.

House Of America (1997)

The Movie: Drama set in the economically-parched area of South-West Wales, as a father-less family live in cash-strapped conditions. Things get worse when sibs Sid and Gwenny start swilling medication with booze.

The Awesome:
As provocative as it is enthralling, the histrionic drama contained in Marc Evans’ film is shattering stuff.

Welsh Reference: More mining talk takes place when a mine opens near the brood’s home.

Zulu (1964)

The Movie: Distributed by Paramount and directed by an American, but Zulu would never have come about without Welsh actor/producer Stanley Baker, who made the film through his new production company Diamond Films.

The Awesome: Deemed one of Michael Caine’s finest ever performances, while we voted Zulu the 34th best British movie ever made back in 2004.

Welsh Reference: The British 24th Regiment of Foot was credited as a Welsh regiment, though it wouldn’t actually become one until 1881.

Grand Slam (1978)

The Movie: Made-for-TV movie in which a Welsh rugby team head to Paris for the final match of the Five Nations rugby tournament. While there, a player seeks out an old lover from the war.

The Awesome: Hollywood hero Hugh Griffith heads up the comedy shenanigans - what more could you ask for?

Welsh Reference: Grand Slam harkens back to a time when Wales’ rugby team was at the peak of its playing ability. It won the Five Nations championship in '66, '67, '69, '71, '75, '76, '78 and '79. Since then the team have only won a further four times.

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

The Movie: Though US financed, and directed by John Ford, this is an interesting exploration of a Welsh family working at the turn of the 20th century in the South Wales Valleys.

The Awesome: Developments in the second World War meant that it was impossible to shoot in Wales, as 20th Century Fox had planned. So a 3,000 acre replica mining town in Malibu Canyon instead. Impressive.

Welsh Reference: The cast consisted of just one genuinely Welsh actor, Rhys Williams.

Human Traffic (1999)

The Movie: Indie movie from Justin Kerrigan starring John Simm as Jip, a young man crippled by sexual anxiety after a stream of less-than-great rolls in the hay.

The Awesome: Dealing in themes of alienation while mixing in observations of the Welsh drug culture, Human Traffic possesses an edgy, modern vibe that many Cymru films are accused of lacking.

Welsh Reference: The entire thing is an ode to contemporary Cardiff.