Tuesday 17 June 2014

Britain is a country which should loudly say "Happy Birthday" to its old and unfeted film director called Ken Loach

Ken, whose films over the last 50 years, noted for their social realism, driven by his left-wing views and denied the accolades in Britain which they have been granted in Europe, is 78 years old today.

For me, he will always be remembered for his wonderful film, 'Kes,' which he made in 1969 when I was 22 and he was 33. Forty four years on and it still makes me smile :

The football match :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUCQhertnbU and the caning :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZB0i0NzOe0

What you possibly didn't know about Ken, that he :

* was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire and from the age of 11 attended King Edward VI Grammar School, left and served two years national service in the Royal Air Force, then studied law at St Peter's College, Oxford University and performed comedy in the 'Oxford Review'.

* made 10 BBC' 'Wednesday Plays', including the docudramas 'Up the Junction' in 1965 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILTTL4JoQJA'Cathy Come Home' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KSAkX1YDTs dealing with the issues of homelessness, unemployment and the working of social services in '66 whose impact was so massive that it led directly to a change in the homeless laws.
* directed the feature films for the cinema, 'Poor Cow' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYOsXumc6-E
in '67 and 'Kes' recouhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRYvUpsrqmg , the story of a troubled boy and his kestrel and listed as Number 7 by the British Institute in the list of 'Best British films of the Twentieth Century',

*  made the 'The Gamekeeper' in 1968, but was less successful in the 1970s, suffered from poor distribution, lack of interest and political censorship and found his 1967 documentary : 'The Save the Children Fund Film' so disliked by the charity that it attempted to have the negative destroyed and wasn't screened publicly until 2011.

* made 'Looks and Smiles' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtNnJcxMcNA
in 1981 and was commissioned by Channel 4 to make 'Questions of Leadership', a documentary series on the response of the British trade union movement to the challenge posed by the policies of Margaret Thatcher's Government and concluded that the decision not to screen the programmes, 'politically motivated'.

directed 'Which Side Are You On?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6kpwAZwzVE in 1985 about the songs and poems of the Miners Strike commissioned by ITV's, 'The South Bank Show' also withdrawn from transmission.only to see it broadcast only after it won a major prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

* in the late 1980s and into the 1990s, made the critically acclaimed, 'Hidden Agenda' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYmGjSCw5ck dealing with the political troubles in Northern Ireland, 'Carla's Song' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyVd-oePe2U set partially in Nicaragua.

* saw 'Land and Freedom' in 1995 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfGM5EQtMTg, examining the Republican resistance in the Spanish Civil War, with its quintessential 'Loach sequence' of a political discussion amongst villagers trying to decide whether or not smallholdings should be collectivized, win the 'Ecumenical Jury Prize' at Cannes and become a box-office hit in Spain, where it sparked intense debate about its subject matter. 

* often saw his films achieve more popularity in mainland Europe than in either Britain or the the USA where 'Riff-Raff' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ0kCxY73cM in 1991 won the 'Felix Award for Best European Film' receive less acclaim in the USA where it was shown with subtitles because of its English dialect and in  2006, won the 'Palmed'Or' at Cannes for 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtX11mUh6kA , about the Irish War of Independence against the British the Irish Civil War during the 1920s.

* saw 2009, 'Looking for Eric' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j852L4afUJs , featuring a depressed postman's conversations with the ex-Manchester United football star, Eric Cantona,  played by himself, fail to get wide release and only make £12,000 profit, despite receiving critical acclaim.

* in 2011, released 'Route Irish' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANNIiF51RNo an examination of private contractors working in the Iraqi occupation and saw his most recent film, 'The Angel's Share' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcQIvmR21VU about a young Scottish troublemaker, given one final opportunity to stay out of jail receive the 'Jury Prize' at the Cannes.

* in the series,'The Film That Changed My Life', in the Observer newspaper in 2010, Loach cited Vittorio De Sica's 'The Bicycle Thief' made in 1948, as the movie that 'most inspired him to pursue a career in filmmaking'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_lJbSJoIuw

*  this year saw 'Jimmy's Hall' selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the 2014 Festival :

Ken, actors and critics talking about his films :

Ken, with self-deprecation, on film making : "A movie isn't a political movement, a party or even an article. It's just a film. At best it can add its voice to public outrage".

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