|Birth Day:||June 17, 1936|
|Birth Place:||Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom|
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Kenneth Charles Loach was born on 17 June 1936 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, the son of Vivien (née Hamlin) and John Loach. He attended King Edward VI Grammar School and went on to read law at St Peter's College, Oxford. He graduated with a law degree in 1957. As a member of the Oxford University Experimental Theatre Club he directed an open-air production of Bartholomew Fair for the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford, in 1959 (when he also took the role of the shady horse-dealer Dan Jordan Knockem). After Oxford, he spent two years in the Royal Air Force and then began a career in the dramatic arts.
Loach turned down an OBE in 1977. In a Radio Times interview, published in March 2001, he said:
Loach's documentary A Question of Leadership (1981) interviewed members of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (the main trade union for Britain's steel industry) with regards to their 14-week strike in 1980, and recorded much criticism of the union's leadership for conceding over the issues in the strike. Subsequently, Loach made a four-part series named Questions of Leadership which subjected the leadership of other trade unions to similar scrutiny from their members, but this has never been broadcast. Frank Chapple, leader of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, walked out of the interview and made a complaint to the Independent Broadcasting Authority. A separate complaint was made by Terry Duffy of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union. The series was due to be broadcast during the Trade Union Congress conference in 1983, but Channel 4 decided against broadcasting the series following the complaints. Anthony Hayward claimed in 2004 that the media tycoon Robert Maxwell had put pressure on Central Television's board (Central was the successor to the original production company Associated Television), of which he had become a director, to withdraw Questions of Leadership at the time he was buying the Daily Mirror newspaper and needed the co-operation of union leaders, especially Chapple.
Working again with Jim Allen, Loach was due to direct Allen's play Perdition at the Royal Court Theatre in 1987. In the play Jewish leaders in Nazi-occupied Hungary allow half a million Jews to be killed in pursuit of a Zionist state in Palestine. However, following protests and allegations of antisemitism, the play was cancelled 36 hours before its premiere.
In 1989, Loach directed a short documentary Time to go that called for the British Army to be withdrawn from Northern Ireland, which was broadcast in the BBC's Split Screen series.
While Loach's films have only occasionally been entered into the Venice and Berlin Film Festivals (generally regarded as the main rivals of Cannes), he has won awards at both, including, most notably, their respective lifetime achievement awards: the Honorary Golden Lion in 1994, and the Honorary Golden Bear in 2014.
Other major awards won by Loach include the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film (I, Daniel Blake in 2016) and BIFA Award for Best British Independent Film (My Name is Joe in 1998 and Sweet Sixteen in 2002), the Cesar Award for Best Foreign Film (Land and Freedom in 1995 and I, Daniel Blake in 2016), the European Film Award for Best Film (Riff-Raff in 1992 and Land and Freedom in 1995), and the Belgian Film Critics Association Grand Prix (Raining Stones in 1993).
During this period, he also directed the absurdist comedy The End of Arthur's Marriage, about which he later said that he was "the wrong man for the job". Coinciding with his work for The Wednesday Play, Loach began to direct feature films for the cinema, with Poor Cow (1967) and Kes (1969). The latter recounts the story of a troubled boy and his kestrel, and is based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. The film was well received, although the use of Yorkshire dialect throughout the film restricted its distribution, with some American executives at United Artists saying that they would have found a film in Hungarian easier to understand. The British Film Institute named it No 7 in its list of best British films of the twentieth century, published in 1999.
In 2003, Loach received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University and received the 2003 Praemium Imperiale (lit. "World Culture Prize in Memory of His Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu") in the category Film/Theatre. In 2014, he was presented with the Honorary Golden Bear at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival. The Raindance Film Festival announced in September 2016 that it would be honouring Loach with its inaugural Auteur Award, to recognise his "achievements in filmmaking and contribution to the film industry." He was also made Honorary Associate of London Film School.
He was involved in Respect - The Unity Coalition from its beginnings in January 2004, and stood for election to the European Parliament on the Respect list in 2004. Loach was elected to the national council of Respect the following November. When Respect split in 2007, Loach identified with Respect Renewal, the faction identified with George Galloway. Later, his connection with Respect ended.
Loach has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Bath, the University of Birmingham, Staffordshire University, and Keele University. Oxford University awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree in June 2005. He is also an honorary fellow of his alma mater, St Peter's College, Oxford. In May 2006, he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship at the BAFTA TV Awards.
On 28 May 2006, Loach won the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival for his film The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a political-historical drama about the Irish War of Independence and the subsequent Irish Civil War during the 1920s. Like Hidden Agenda before it, The Wind That Shakes the Barley was criticised for allegedly being too sympathetic to the Irish Republican Army and Provisional Irish Republican Army. This film was followed by It's a Free World... (2007), a story of one woman's attempt to establish an illegal placement service for migrant workers in London.
Loach is arguably the most successful director in the history of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Films of his have won the Palme d’Or, the festival's top award, a joint-record twice (The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006 and I, Daniel Blake in 2016), the Jury Prize a joint-record three times (Hidden Agenda in 1990, Raining Stones in 1993, and The Angels' Share in 2012) as well as the FIPRESCI Prize three times (Black Jack in 1979, Riff-Raff in 1991 and Land and Freedom in 1995) and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury twice (Land and Freedom in 1995 and Looking for Eric in 2009). Loach's collaborators have also won awards at the festival for their work on his films: Peter Mullan won Best Actor for My Name Is Joe in 1998, and Paul Laverty won Best Screenplay for Sweet Sixteen in 2002.
In 2007, Loach was one of more than 100 artists and writers who signed an open letter calling on the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival "to honour calls for an international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions, by discontinuing Israeli consulate sponsorship of the LGBT film festival and not co-sponsoring events with the Israeli consulate". Loach also joined "54 international figures in the literary and cultural fields" in signing a letter that stated, in part, "celebrating 'Israel at 60' is tantamount to dancing on Palestinian graves to the haunting tune of lingering dispossession and multi-faceted injustice". The letter was published in the International Herald Tribune on 8 May 2008.
In a letter sent to The Guardian in 2009, Loach advocated support for the Palestine Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) along with his regular colleagues Paul Laverty (writer) and Rebecca O'Brien (producer).
Responding to a report, which Loach described as "a red herring", on the growth of antisemitism since the beginning of the Gaza War of 2008–2009, he said: "If there has been a rise I am not surprised. In fact, it is perfectly understandable because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism". He added that "no-one can condone violence". Speaking at the launch of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine on 4 March 2009, he asserted that "nothing has been a greater instigator of antisemitism than the self-proclaimed Jewish state itself".
In May 2009, organisers of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) returned a £300 grant from the Israeli Embassy after speaking with Loach. He was supporting a boycott of the festival called for by the PACBI campaign. In response, former Channel 4 chief executive Sir Jeremy Isaacs described Loach's intervention as an act of censorship, saying: "They must not allow someone who has no real position, no rock to stand on, to interfere with their programming". Later, a spokesman for the EIFF said that although it had returned £300 to the Israeli Embassy, the festival itself would fund Israeli filmmaker Tali Shalom Ezer's travel to Edinburgh from its own budget. Her film Surrogate (2008) is a comedy set in a sex-therapy clinic which is unconcerned with war or politics. In an open letter to Shalom-Ezer, Loach wrote: "From the beginning, Israel and its supporters have attacked their critics as anti-semites or racists. It is a tactic to undermine rational debate. To be crystal clear: as a film maker you will receive a warm welcome in Edinburgh. You are not censored or rejected. The opposition was to the Festival’s taking money from the Israeli state". To his critics, he added later: "The boycott, as anyone who takes the trouble to investigate knows, is aimed at the Israeli state". Loach said he had a "respectful and reasoned" conversation with event organisers, saying they should not be accepting funds from Israel.
In June 2009, Loach, Laverty and O'Brien withdrew their film Looking For Eric from the Melbourne International Film Festival, where the Israeli Embassy is a sponsor, after the festival declined to withdraw that sponsorship. The festival's chief executive, Richard Moore, compared Loach's tactics to blackmail, stating that "we will not participate in a boycott against the State of Israel, just as we would not contemplate boycotting films from China or other nations involved in difficult long-standing historical disputes". Australian lawmaker Michael Danby also criticised Loach's tactics stating that "Israelis and Australians have always had a lot in common, including contempt for the irritating British penchant for claiming cultural superiority. Melbourne is a very different place to Londonistan". An article in The Scotsman by Alex Massie noted that Loach had not called for the same boycott of the Cannes Film Festival, where his film was in competition with some Israeli films.
In May 2010, Loach referred in an interview to the three films that have influenced him most: Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (1948), Miloš Forman's Loves of a Blonde (1965) and Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers (1966). De Sica's film had a particularly profound effect. He noted: "It made me realise that cinema could be about ordinary people and their dilemmas. It wasn't a film about stars, or riches or absurd adventures".
Together with John Pilger and Jemima Khan, Loach was among the six people in court who offered surety for Julian Assange when he was arrested in London on 7 December 2010. The money was forfeited when Assange skipped bail to seek asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador, London.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Loach's films were less successful, often suffering from poor distribution, lack of interest and political censorship. His documentary The Save the Children Fund Film (1971) was commissioned by the charity, who subsequently disliked it so much they attempted to have the negative destroyed. It was only screened publicly for the first time on 1 September 2011, at the BFI Southbank. Loach concentrated on television documentaries rather than fiction during the 1980s, and many of these films are now difficult to access as the television companies have not released them on video or DVD. At the end of the 1980s, he directed some television advertisements for Tennent's Lager to earn money.
A thematic consistency throughout his films, whether they examine broad political situations or smaller intimate dramas, is his focus on personal relationships. The sweeping political dramas (Land and Freedom, Bread and Roses, The Wind that Shakes the Barley) examine wider political forces in the context of relationships between family members (Bread and Roses, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Carla's Song), comrades in struggle (Land and Freedom) or close friends (Route Irish). In a 2011 interview for the Financial Times, Loach explains how "The politics are embedded into the characters and the narrative, which is a more sophisticated way of doing it".
Throughout his career, some of Loach's films have been shelved for political reasons. In a 2011 interview with The Guardian newspaper he said:
Loach supported the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the 2012 London Assembly election. With the support of the activist Kate Hudson and academic Gilbert Achcar, Loach launched a campaign in March 2013 for a new left-wing party which was founded as Left Unity on 30 November. Left Unity candidates gained an average of 3.2% in the 2014 local elections. Loach gave a press conference during the launch of Left Unity's manifesto for the 2015 general election.
In November 2012, Loach turned down the Turin Film Festival award, after learning that the National Museum of Cinema in Turin had outsourced cleaning and security services. As a consequence, workers had been dismissed, while there had been allegations of intimidation and harassment. Some workers lost their jobs after opposing a wage cut.
The Angels' Share (2013) is centred on a young Scottish troublemaker who is given a final opportunity to stay out of jail. Newcomer Paul Brannigan, then 24, from Glasgow, played the lead role. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival where Loach won the Jury Prize. Jimmy's Hall (2014) was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Loach announced his retirement from film-making in 2014 but soon after restarted his career following the election of a Conservative government in the UK general election of 2015.
Loach is a member of the Labour Party. In August 2015, he endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership campaign. In September 2016, Loach's one-hour documentary In Conversation with Jeremy Corbyn was released during the second leadership election.
Loach won his second Palme d'Or for I, Daniel Blake (2016). In February 2017, the film was awarded a BAFTA as "Outstanding British Film".
In May 2017, he directed an election broadcast featuring a profile of Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party's general election campaign. In all, he has made three broadcasts for the party.
At the Labour Party conference in September 2017, Loach said he had been going to Labour Party, trade union and left wing meetings for over 50 years and had never heard anti-Semitic or racist remarks, although such views certainly existed in society. When asked about allegations of antisemitic abuse made by Ruth Smeeth MP, he suggested that they were raised to destabilise Corbyn's leadership, due to his support for Palestinian rights. He was also asked about a conference fringe event at which Miko Peled suggested people should be allowed to question whether the Holocaust had happened. Loach responded: "I think history is for all of us to discuss. The founding of the state of Israel, for example, based on ethnic cleansing, is there for us all to discuss, so don't try and subvert that by false stories of antisemitism". Following the publication of articles by Jonathan Freedland and Howard Jacobson which were critical of him, he denied that he felt it was acceptable to question the reality of the Holocaust, adding that it was as real a historical event as the Second World War itself and not to be challenged.
In April 2018, Loach was reported to have said, at a screening of I, Daniel Blake organised by Kingswood Labour Party, that those Labour MPs who had attended a rally in Parliament Square the previous month opposing alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party should be deselected or, as he reputedly expressed it, "kicked out" because of their lack of support for the current manifesto. Asked for clarification, Loach said the quoted remarks "do not reflect my position" and that “Reselecting an MP should not be based on individual incidents but reflect the MP’s principles, actions and behaviour over a long period.”
In April 2018, Loach was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Université libre de Bruxelles. Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel objected. Belgian Jewish organisations campaigned for Loach not to receive the honorary doctorate. The previous evening, during a speech at Brussels Grand Synagogue, to mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's foundation, Michel said: "No accommodation with antisemitism can be tolerated, whatever its form. And that also goes for my own alma mater". His office told the Belgian De Standaard news website the comments could apply to Loach's honorary doctorate.
In November 2019, Loach endorsed the Labour Party in the 2019 UK general election. In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, he signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that "Labour's election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few."
In July 2019, Panorama aired an episode entitled "Is Labour Anti-Semitic?", in which eight former members of Labour Party staff said that senior Labour figures had intervened to downgrade punishments handed out to members over antisemitism. Loach commented saying "it raised the horror of racism against Jews in the most atrocious propagandistic way, with crude journalism … and it bought the propaganda from people who were intent on destroying Corbyn".
Currently, Ken Loach is 85 years, 0 months and 5 days old. Ken Loach will celebrate 86th birthday on a Friday 17th of June 2022.
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