The winner of the 2014 Sheffield Doc Fest Audience Award, and the result of a successful crowdfunding strategy, as well as donations from individuals (including trading unions), Still the Enemy Within shows the troubled miners’ strike in the 80s through the eyes of the miners that were in the front of the picket lines.
Using never before seen archive footage and collecting interviews with as many people with direct involvement as possible, this documentary feels like a heart-to-heart in the afternoon, sharing tea and biscuits with some really interesting people. Not only we do hear the story of those who braved hunger and cold to fight for what they believed in, but we also have a peak backstage at the women that had to make do without a salary at home and the men that somehow continued working, foolishly believing in the safety promised by Thatcher’s government. We also see all the British people that decided to unite to support the miners struggle because they saw it as their own struggle as well- like homosexuals and students.
There’s a great overview of the facts, so if you have been living under a rock and know nothing about the history facts you will quickly be put up to date. Of course, as the microphone is centered on the miners’ voices, this is mostly a one-sided story, but this single, fresh and original perspective is more than welcome after 30 years of being fed what to think about what happened exclusively by politicians and historians.
Plus, far from being centered exclusively in the past, subtle parallels with the present political situation in the UK are drawn, taking it a step further from being just a passive reflection about water gone under the bridge.
The only fault on Still the Enemy Within is a common one to documentaries that centre their stories on talking heads, no matter how interesting, emotional, colourful and close those are – there is just too much talk and not enough observational material, despite the archive footage. That makes it feel slightly longer than it should be, and though there are brilliant and strong tear-dropping moments in the third act, some bits from the middle could easily have been missed out in the final product. Overall, however, the film is extremely satisfactory, both for experts on the matter and documentary lovers.
Still the Enemy Within will be released in cinemas on Oct 3.