Picturing Our Past

Picturing Our Past: The History of Welsh Filmmaking

Picturing Our Past, a free bilingual app on the history of Welsh film and television, was launched earlier this week on the Apple App Store.

A bilingual enhanced e-book has been created by Thud Media with the support of the Books Council of Wales and Film Hub Wales. Written and compiled specifically for digital release by award-winning director Colin Thomas and Iola Baines, Moving Image Curator at the National Library of Wales Screen and Sound Archive, Picturing Our Past/Fframio’n Gorffennol tells the story of Welsh film and television by combining text and film inserts in one free product.

Baines explained, “Our aim in launching this app is to introduce new audiences and enthusiasts to Wales’ rich film and cinema heritage — and we are proud to include living, breathing examples to illustrate this history, in the form of moving image extracts from each era. We hope that this enhanced e-book will inspire people to delve deeper into this fascinating history, unearthing the people and stories behind the films they discover — and perhaps being moved to add to the history by creating and filming their own stories!”

Picturing Our Past brings Dave Berry’s pioneering book Wales and Cinema: The First Hundred Years up to date, and digital technology enables its authors to include extracts from key films from Wales’ cinematic past. Released on iOS and suitable for iPads and Macs, this digital approach also allows the user to easily switch between the English and Welsh-language versions as well as expand annotations and footnotes with a simple tap.

The e-book’s five chapters celebrate Wales’ film heritage, following the compelling story of early pioneering silent film making, through the coming of sound and colour, the impact of television, and up to the present digital era. Each chapter is illustrated with five key film clips from the period studied, bringing into focus the rich history of Welsh film and television.

The publication of Picturing Our Past has been promoted with a series of film screenings throughout Wales. Organised by the National Library of Wales Screen and Sound Archive, the screenings pair a film from the past with a more recent production. The tour will conclude on the 29th of May with the new bitter-sweet Welsh comedy Denmark at Sinema Sadwrn, Llansadwrn. A special event on the 4th of May marked the launch of the app, featuring a specially recorded trailer narrated by Cerys Matthews and appearances from Cornish-Welsh musician Gwenno, feminist filmmaker Michele Ryan and S4C presenter Aled Samuel.

“This new e-book is an exciting and innovative way of presenting the National Library’s rich audiovisual collection, offering users a fresh and contemporary pathway to engage with this inspiring heritage,” said Pedr ap Llwyd, Chief Executive and Librarian of The National Library of Wales. “Furthermore, the film tour promoting the e-book is an excellent way to take our collection of films ‘on the road’, reaching out to audiences in the four corners of Wales who may never before have experienced heritage film on the big screen, or made the connection between ‘the new and the old’ in terms of Welsh cinema.”

The Picturing Our Past app is available via the Apple Store, find out more here.