SPOILER We hear a lot about the great French New Wave of the late '50's and '60's but what must not be forgotten is that in Britain at approximately the same time we were experiencing a New Wave that for us was no less exciting, even if, in retrospect, the directors that led it, Lindsay Anderson, Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz did not quite possess the iconic genius of giants such as Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Godard. Nevertheless under the collective umbrella of a company named Woodfall they produced some pretty exciting stuff. I remember thinking Richardson's "A Taste of Honey" one of the most life-affirming films I had ever seen. If time has been a little less kind to it as one became more and more aware of its dependence on the use of melancholy industrial landscapes to underline its excitement, one film that understated this element, Anderson's "This Sporting Life" (not actually a Woodfall film but very much a part of this movement) has not diminished its power and remains in my opinion as seminal a work as Godard's "A Bout de Soufflé". Towards the end of the Woodfall era a new figure, Ken Loach emerged on the scene with early works such as "Kes", that were to carry forward the spirit of the British New Wave from the late '60's to the present day, a body of work without parallel in its consistency in our native cinema. "Kes", the story of an unloved streetwise adolescent, Billy Casper, living in Barnsley breaks dramatically away from the cinematic tradition of cute kids in much the same way as Truffaut had done in "Les Quatre Cent Coups". Billy, grubby and not beyond the odd bout of petty pilfering, lives in a council estate with a single mum and a loutish elder brother. School is a drudge to somehow get through each day. It's a place peopled by largely unsympathetic teachers who keep the kids down by barrages of verbal abuse and the odd swish of the cane. Somehow Billy holds his own. In the meantime he finds his inner strength and salvation in training a kestrel from the wild. When in the closing scened he loses the bird through the uncaring machinations of his brother, the effect is nothing short of heart wrenching. I would not quite go along with those reviewers who consider this to be Loach's finest film. It is somehow too loosely focused and concentrates a little too much on peripheral social issues such as the parlous state of education in a Northern secondary school and unsympathetic career guidance. The football match in the middle, although gently funny, goes on for rather a long time, deflecting our interest away from Billy. Loach was later to develop his vision of the human condition more single-mindedly and to greater effect in works such as "The Gamekeeper", "Ladybird, Ladybird" and what I believe to be his greatest work, "My Name is Joe", which is not to diminish a film with many wonderful moments provided mainly by David Bradley in his unforgettable performance as Billy Casper.