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Ken Loach Poster

Biography

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Overview (1)

Date of Birth 17 June 1936Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, UK

Mini Bio (1)

Unlike virtually all his contemporaries, Ken Loach has never succumbed to the siren call of Hollywood, and it's virtually impossible to imagine his particular brand of British socialist realism translating well to that context. After studying law at St. Peter's College, Oxford, he branched out into the theater, performing with a touring repertory company. This led to television, where in alliance with producer Tony Garnett he produced a series of docudramas, most notably the devastating "Cathy Come Home" episode of The Wednesday Play (1964), whose impact was so massive that it led directly to a change in the homeless laws. He made his feature debut Poor Cow (1967) the following year, and with Kes (1969), he produced what is now acclaimed as one of the finest films ever made in Britain. However, the following two decades saw his career in the doldrums with his films poorly distributed (despite the obvious quality of work such as The Gamekeeper (1968) and Looks and Smiles (1981)) and his TV work in some cases never broadcast (most notoriously, his documentaries on the 1984 miners' strike). But he made a spectacular comeback in the 1990s, with a series of award-winning films firmly establishing him in the pantheon of great European directors - his films have always been more popular in mainland Europe than in his native country or the US (where Riff-Raff (1991) was shown with subtitles because of the wide range of dialects). Hidden Agenda (1990) won the Special Jury Prize at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival; Riff-Raff (1991) won the Felix award for Best European Film of 1992; Raining Stones (1993) won the Cannes Special Jury Prize for 1993, and Land and Freedom (1995) won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize and the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival - and was a substantial box-office hit in Spain where it sparked intense debate about its subject matter. This needless to say, was one of the reasons that Loach made the film!

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Spouse (1)

Lesley Ashton (17 July 1962 - present) (5 children)

Trade Mark (2)

Naturalistic, social realist directing style
Improvisation, to create a genuine interplay between actors

Trivia (12)

Five children: Stephen (born 1963), Nicholas (born 1965, died 1971 in a road accident), Hannah (born 1967), James (director Jim Loach) (born 1969), and Emma (born 1972).
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985". Pages 593-597. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
Was a law student at Oxford.
He allegedly declined the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to film in 1977.
Has supported Olivier Besancenot's 2007 French presidential campaign.
He was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film and television culture.
A loyal supporter of Bath City FC.
At an anniversary screening of The Wednesday Play: Cathy Come Home (1966) in 2002, Loach spoke of how the play had become an important part in making the debate on homelessness public. At the same event his producer, Tony Garnett, pointed out that the number of homeless in Britain had more than doubled "...but Ken [Loach] and I now live in much more expensive houses.".
Condemned the detention of Jafar Panahi, arrested on 1 March 2010 along with Mohammad Rasoulof and Mehdi Pourmoussa. "It is a very shocking development and further demonstration of the intolerance of the regime. I hope all people working in films will call for his release, and speak out in solidarity for him and all Iranian filmmakers working under similar conditions. It is completely unacceptable." Pourmoussa and Rasoulof were released from the Evin prison on 17 March 2010, but Panahi remains in ward 209.
In the series "The Film That Changed My Life" (Observer newspaper UK/May 2010), Loach cited Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (1948) (Bicycle Thieves) as the movie that most inspired him to pursue a career in filmmaking.
Interviewed in "World Directors in Dialogue" by Bert Cardullo (Scarecrow Press, 2011).
Paid part of the $150,000 needed for Julian Assange's bail.

Personal Quotes (10)

I turned down the OBE because it's not a club you want to join when you look at the villains who've got it. It's all the things I think are despicable: patronage, deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest.
Stalin has caused Socialism greater damage than anyone else.
Why do they say I hate my country? And what does that even mean? Am I supposed to hate my town, am I supposed to hate all English people, or my government? And if I do hate my government, does that mean I hate my country? It's a democratic duty to criticize the government.
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.
I think our TV news editors are still sometimes using the language of government propaganda. We still hear the term 'war on terror' for an illegal war. We're still hearing the words reform and modernization when what we really mean is privatization and public greed.
In '45 we had probably the best reforming government we've had, in the Attlee (Clement Attlee) government. It was still a social democrat government, it wasn't a socialist government, but the consciousness of people was that we were a collective and we were stronger together than as individuals. And obviously out of that came the health service and public ownership of utilities and transport and a sense of collective endeavour. People had made that sacrifice to win the war, so there was a general sense that things would get better from there. The consciousness was: we've achieved things and we have things that will never be taken away from us, like the health service, like public ownership of the mines, of the transport, of the gas, electric - it was ours. And now, that's gone, we've just given it away... Allowed politicians to give it to their friends. And the cult of the individual, from '79 onwards, which New Labour has followed and which dominated the party, has just killed that. So the consciousness now is not: "How can we work together?" It's: "How can I get on, at the expense of you?" So that's pretty horrible.
[on his film 'Jimmy's Hall'] We not only shot on film, we cut on film. It's very good because it's not as quick as digital cutting, so you consider what you do more carefully. It's a much more human way of working. The film industry is like any other - it's about speed and cutting the people doing the job. We're going to carry on, cutting on film.
If films were to have a big influence, it would probably be very negative because they would probably endorse great wealth. They would endorse America as the home of peace and democracy and the defender of freedom.
Traditionally when young people were growing up, they were introduced into the adult world through work. They don't have that now. I think it's surprising [rioting] hasn't happened before.
Britishness was about empire, Britishness was about slavery, oppression, hence the Butcher's Apron. Britishness has a long legacy which we want to disown.

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