Dark Horse director to document Ken Loach's 50-year career

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Jun 25, 2015 19:58 IST

British director Louis Osmond, whose Dark Horse won an award at the Sundance Film Festival, is all set to document Ken Loach's 50-year career, more specifically the battles this brilliant auteur fought around his movies. Dark Horse was a documentary about a small syndicate from a Welsh village that takes on the global racing elite.

Loach's son, Jim, was to have directed the documentary, and this was also announced last October. But one presumes he got off board because the subject was too close to him. An authentic and balanced view may not have been possible.

The title of the work has also been changed from The Flickering Flame to Ken Loach: Untitled.

Osmond's film will include interviews with Loach and his supporters as well as his detractors with footage from his movies. The helmer's life has been amazingly eventful: his tireless effort to create an awareness about homelessness (Cathy Come Home in 1966) and his battle with censors over Sweet Sixteen are but just two of the storms he weathered. In 2006, his Cannes Palm d'Or winner The Wind That Shakes The Barley about the Irish war of independence attracted a right-wing media backlash against him.

Though he started to make films in the mid-1960s, his best works came in the late 1980s. Movies such as Hidden Agenda (dealing with the political turmoil in Northern Ireland), Carla's Song (set in Nicaragua), Land and Freedom (analysing the Republican resistance during the Spanish Civil War) and Raining Stones (about a worker's effort to buy a communion dress for his little daughter) were great stories -- engagingly narrated and thought provoking.

The 2000s saw Loach create profound films like Bread and Roses about the Los Angeles janitors' strike ("We want bread, but we also want roses" is a haunting line), My Name Is Joe, catering on an alcoholic's attempt to stay sober, Looking For Eric that talks about a depressed postman's conversations with a famous Manchester football player (Eric Cantona) and The Angel's Share, which focusses on young Scottish trouble maker who gets one last chance to stay out of jail.

In 2014, Loach said that his Jimmy's Hall -- about a group of young people in Ireland trying to reopen a dance hall -- would be his last feature. It won a top prize at Cannes, and a little later, the director told a media conference at the festival that he had changed his mind. He would continue to make features.

Most influenced by Vittorio de Sica's Bicycle Thieves ("It made me realise that cinema could be about ordinary people and their dilemmas... It was not a movie about stars or riches or absurd adventures," he once said), Milos Forman's Loves of a Blonde and Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers, Loach is known for using different dialects of English in each of his films. They could be Greenock (in Scotland), Yorkshire or Glaswegian. Once when asked about this, he replied: "If you ask people to speak differently, you lose more than the voice. Everything about them changes. If I asked you not to speak with an American accent, your whole personality would change. That's how you are. My hunch is that it's better to use subtitles than not, even if that limits the films to an art-house circuit."

So when Jeethu Joseph uses the Thirunelveli dialect of Tamil is his upcoming Kamal Haasan-Gauthami starrer, Papanasam (remake of the Malayalam hit, Drishyam), he was only trying to be authentic in his portrayal of a people.

Are the North Indian stars of Tamil cinema -- who feel that language is not such a great issue -- listening?

also read

At Tokyo fest, Lipstick Under My Burka dares to dream
Show comments