This year the Co-operative Group will be telling the amazing story of the birth of the modern co-operative movement through a new 52-minute feature film which will bring the spirit of the 'Rochdale Pioneers' into the new millennium. The film is being made by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy and is based on the inspiring story of how a group of locals realised the power they had in working together, making it possible for a set of simple ideas to transform into a powerful global force.
The story is set in 1844 when a group of working-class people from the town of Rochdale came together to change the unfair society they were living in. Fed up with dishonest and corrupt shopkeepers selling poor quality products at high prices they decide to take matters into their own hands. By pooling the few resources they have, the group manage to get enough money together to open their own shop and pledge to only sell quality, unadulterated products, sharing the profits fairly with their customers. The shop is only small and stocks just a handful of products like butter, flour and sugar, but the idea itself is revolutionary and the way they do business fundamentally different in its nature.
The tale is particularly powerful as from these somewhat humble and unassuming beginnings it is estimated that there are now 1.4 million individual co-operative enterprises globally securing the livelihoods of over three billion people! That's why, today more than ever, the story of the Rochdal Pioneers is one to inspire others to change their own world by making a difference in the society they live in.
Directed by John Montegrande, whose last BYFA movie ‘Julius Caesar’ was nominated for an award at the prestigious Raindance Film Festival, the filmmaking process has been truly collaborative, with extras recruited from the local community to play supporting roles alongside the popular actor John Henshaw and the production's progress shared through a dedicated Facebook page which is regularly updated with new photos, videos and news.