Ken Loach In Derby
Not a lot happens in my home town of Derby. At least, it didn’t until the city’s amazing cinema (and my occasional employer) QUAD started bringing in the stars of British cinema. I was unlucky to miss Paddy Considine introduce Tyrannosaur last month, so I was first in the queue to bag a seat to see a Q&A with the godfather of British realism, Ken Loach.
Wednesday night’s event – timed to coincide with Loach’s opening of a sustainable housing development in the city – was part of a Loach season. Yet rather than the obvious suspects in his illustrious CV (Cathy Come Home, Kes, The Wind That Shakes The Barley), when it came to the appearance by the man himself, QUAD elected to shine a light on two lesser known films: Loach’s contribution to 9-11 compendium 11’09″01(looking at another awful 9-11, the 1973 coup in Chile which brought General Pinochet to power) and The Navigators, his 2001 drama about Sheffield railway workers – a choice which, he freely admits, was inspired by the current saga surrounding Derby company Bombardier, which is itself the kind of story you can imagine Loach filming in the future.
Loach fielded some daft questions (and, worse, lengthy monologues about what Kes means to his fans) with good grace and geniune humility. When asked what stories he would like to tell, he admitted that he didn’t feel qualified to tell the one he felt the world needed to see, about the plight of the Palestinians. It’s refreshingly honest to hear a director explain that, based on past experiences, they are uncomfortable with directing in a foreign country because it’s a struggle to convey the nuances of character they require – a far cry to the kind of Hollywood colonisation where foreigners are asked only to play two-dimensional villains or victims. Ironically, the next question was from a translator who worked with asylum seekers and who seemed to be offering her services to help Loach make a film – which rather flummoxed him!
Some cracking anecdotes, too. Asked how to gets such honest emotional reactions from his cast, he tells a story from the making of Land And Freedom. He hadn’t told the extras that they would have guns aimed in their faces in order to film their natural shock…however none of his three cameras was positioned to capture the sight of them scarpering in panic at the first sign of the guns!
All in all, an occasion I was privileged to attend and thanks to the QUAD for the coup of getting him on stage. Let’s have Martin Scorsese next year!