It seems as if Ken Loach may have reconsidered his decision to retire from fiction filmmaking. The scale of Jimmy’s Hall (released 30th May) had been daunting but now he thinks making more films with collaborator Paul Laverty is a distinct possibility. That’s great news for fans of his work; as the second part of the IFI Ken Loach Retrospective which runs throughout June illustrates, there are few filmmakers working today who have the courage and intelligence to take on vital issues as frequently, articulately and convincingly as he does.
This post-1995 selection of Loach films which starts with Land and Freedom (June 1st, 16.00), his visceral but intellectually challenging film about the Spanish Civil War; proves him to be a true internationalist with films made in Ireland, Spain, Scotland, Nicaragua , U.S and a surprising but fruitful collaboration with French footballer Eric Cantona in Looking for Eric (June 18th, 18.15). Two of those countries however, Ireland and Scotland, stand out as places where Loach has made something of a home from home.
The source of the Scottish connection is readily identifiable in Loach’s potent collaboration with Paul Laverty, a Scottish Lawyer turned screenwriter who first approached Loach with what he’d seen working in Human Rights Organisations in Nicaragua – a story that became Carla’s Song (June 2nd, 18.15). Laverty’s ability to write from what he knows at home in the west of Scotland has resulted a fine trilogy of work rooted there; Peter Mullan’s career-defining performance as an unemployed recovering alcoholic in My Name is Joe (June 4th, 18.30); an searing examination of youth poverty and alienation in Sweet Sixteen (June 9th, 18.15), and the warmly observed cross-cultural romance Ae Fond Kiss (June 11th, 18.30).
Ireland and the Irish have been a recurring theme in Loach’s work since Hidden Agenda and with the Cannes Palme D’Or-winning The Wind that Shakes the Barley (June 15th, 16.00) he confirmed his importance as an interpreter of Irish history on film. This story of two Republican brothers during the War of Independence and Civil War is intensely gripping, passionate and political charged.
Following on from The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Loach’s new film Jimmy’s Hall which is released at the IFI from the 30th May once again concerns Irish politics, this time focusing on the stifling of social and political change in the post-Independence era through the story of Jimmy Gralton. His current look back into history is also reflected in last year’s stirring documentary on the foundation of the British Welfare State Spirit of ’45 (June 24th, 18.30).
Dr. Donal Ó Drisceoil, a lecturer at University College Cork who has twice acted as an historical adviser to Loach will give a FREE Afternoon Talk on June 11th at 16.15 on Resistance, Rebellion and Jazz: Ken Loach’s Takes on Irish History.
Tickets available from IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or www.ifi.ie/kenloach
Full Schedule for the Part 2 of the IFI Ken Loach Retrospective
is on general release from 30th May
Land and Freedom June 1st, 16.00
Carla’s Song June 2nd, 18.15
My Name is Joe June 4th, 18.30
Bread and Roses June 7th, 16.00
The Navigators June 8th, 16.00
Sweet Sixteen June 9th, 18.15
Ae Fond Kiss June 11th, 18.30
The Wind that Shakes the Barley June 15th, 16.00
It’s a Free World… June 17th, 18.30
Looking for Eric June 18th, 18.15
Route Irish June 21st, 16.00
Spirit of ’45 June 24th, 18.30