Phase9 Movies 2000-12

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Year: 2010
USA: Sony Pictures Classics
UK: Paramount Pictures
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James, Rosamund Pike, Andrea Riseborough, Jaime Winstone, Daniel Mays, Nicola Duffett, Lorraine Stanley, Kenneth Cranham, Rupert Graves, John Sessions, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Richard Schiff, Thomas Arnold, Phil Cornwell, Matt King, Sian Scott, Cara Bamford, Annika Hammerton
Director: Nigel Cole
Country: UK
USA & UK: 112 mins
USA Rated: R for language and brief sexuality
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language
USA Release Date: 19 November 2010 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 1 October 2010


"1968. It's a man's world but not for long."

Dagenham, 1968. The Ford Motor factory is the industrial heart of Essex, England, employing 55,000. While the men work on the cars in the gleaming new main plant 187 women toil, sewing car seats in the dilapidated old 1920s river plant - where rain regularly falls through the corrugated iron roof and which becomes a sweat shop in summer.

Although far from the Swinging Sixties of Carnaby Street, life for the women of Dagenham is tinged with the sounds and sights of the optimistic era, heard on their radios and seen on their TV sets. But no one thought the revolution would come to Dagenham.

Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins) reflects that upbeat era, along with her friends and co-workers Sandra (Jaime Winstone), Eileen (Nicola Duffett), Brenda (Andrea Riseborough), Monica (Lorraine Stanley) and Connie (Geraldine James), who laugh in the face of their poor conditions. That is until the female workers are re-graded “unskilled,” and the women finally take industrial action. Rita, who primarily sees herself as a wife and mother, is coerced into attending a meeting with shop steward Connie, sympathetic union representative Albert Passingham (Bob Hoskins) and Peter Hopkins (Rupert Graves), Ford’s Head of Industrial Relations and finds her political voice.

A 24-hour strike is announced and as the women machinists wave placards outside the dilapidated plant, the male workers whistle and shout words of encouragement. However, Albert is aware that the gesture doesn’t go far enough. Rather than simply being re-graded as “semi-skilled” workers, he encourages Rita to embark on a fight for equal pay. After receiving a high-handed letter of rebuke from their bosses, the women vote to increase their industrial action by going on an immediate all-out stoppage until an equal pay settlement is reached.

Meanwhile, a series of events are conspiring in their favour. Rita befriends middle class Lisa at the school gate who, unbeknownst to her, is actually the wife of Peter Hopkins. While, in London, Barbara Castle has just started as Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity. Shocked at the statistics " 26,000 strikes in the past 12 months " she is determined to make a difference.

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