Fact is better than fiction

Date published: 06 September 2012

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Fact is more compelling than fiction for this inspirational new movie telling the story of 28 men who battled a backdrop of poverty and harsh working conditions and whose principles are still changing the world almost 170 years later.

Filmed in and around Rochdale and Greater Manchester, “The Rochdale Pioneers”, starring John Henshaw - known for roles in “Born and Bred”, “Early Doors” and “Looking for Eric” and John McArdle of Gallowglass, Brookside and Merseybeat fame, tells how the “Pioneers” vision for a better social order inspired them to overcome prejudice and adversity to form the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society in 1844 - recognised as the birth of the co-operative movement which has an estimated one billion members worldwide today.

The film has been commissioned by The Co-operative Group – the UK’s largest member-owned organisation whose own origins trace back to the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society - to mark the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives, 2012 - a year dedicated to highlighting the contribution of co-operatives to world-wide socio-economic development, particularly their impact on poverty reduction, community cohesion, employment generation and social integration.

It has been confirmed this week that the movie, which has been made by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy, itself a co-operative, will receive its TV debut in November as part of Film4’s British Connection Season.

In addition, the film is also set to receive a special gala screening during Co-operatives United, a global festival of events and exhibitions to be held in Manchester between 29 October – 02 November. Additional screenings and wider distribution is to be confirmed.

Mark Robinson-Field, The Co-operative’s National Co-operative and Membership Manager, said: ”In 1844 the original Rochdale Pioneers set out the principles that became the basis for how co-operatives around the world still operate to this day – a remarkable story of endeavour overcoming adversity that is just as relevant today. We believe that the time is right for this inspirational story to be re-told to a new generation.”

“The Rochdale Pioneers” was co-directed by film-making duo Adam Lee Hamilton and John Montegrande who co-directed The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy movie “Julius Caesar” which was nominated for the international Raindance Film Festival and premiered in London last October (2011).

For members of The Co-operative who cannot wait until Autumn to see the film, Rochdale is hosting a special VIP screening on 25 September – which includes a question and answer session with one of the film’s co-directors - at the Rochdale Odeon.

Tickets are limited and members are urged to book early by emailing or telephoning 0161 827 6423. 

Further information about the special screening is available by visiting

To follow the progress of the film go to

Official trailer for “The Rochdale Pioneers” film

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