Durham Miners' Gala documentary The Big Meeting to hit UK cinemas

Durham Miners' Gala. Picture: Kevin Brady.
Durham Miners' Gala. Picture: Kevin Brady.

A feature-length documentary about the Durham Miners' Gala due to hit the big screen has been described by its director as an "elaborate explanation" of the occasion.

The Big Meeting will be released in cinemas in the UK next Friday, September 6.

Crowds line the streets of Durham. Picture: Kevin Brady.

Crowds line the streets of Durham. Picture: Kevin Brady.

Every second Saturday in July the city of Durham is taken over by miners, trade unions and the public for the major annual event, attracting round 200,000 people, banners and brass bands who parade through the streets to honour their heritage.

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A screening of the film will also take place at Hyde Park Picture House on September 15, followed by a Q&A with Leeds East MP for Labour, Richard Burgon.

The film coincides with the 150th anniversary year of mineworkers forming their first union in 1869 - the first gala took placed two years later.

Director, producer and writer Daniel Draper said: “Visiting and filming the Gala in 2016, I was exposed to the colour, noise and environment for the first time.

"It’s something I’ve struggled to articulate into words to people ever since.

"I don’t think words can do justice to such an occasion - I feel like the Gala is a living and breathing organism, something not static, but immovable - a celebration of working-class life, not just today, but almost as if it takes place in the past and future simultaneously.

"I suppose this film is an elaborate explanation of something wonderful and beyond words."

In December 2017, Liverpool-based film production company Shut Out The Light's documentary about Labour stalwart Dennis Skinner, Nature of the Beast, played to a sold-out audience at Redhills - The Miners' Hall in Durham.

Having filmed at the Gala for Nature of the Beast and exposed to the history and aura of Redhills, the filmmakers approached the Durham Miners' Association (DMA) about the possibility of making the first official feature-length documentary about the Gala.

Shut Out The Light received "unprecedented" access to the Gala, allowing them to capture it from all angles and follows four protagonists through the event.