Magazine article Screen International

Ken Loach Interactive Doc Unveiled

Magazine article Screen International

Ken Loach Interactive Doc Unveiled

Article excerpt

The Flickering Flame will explore the director's 50-year career through the battles he fought to make films.

Sixteen Films unveiled details of an ambitious interactive biography titled The Flickering Flame, exploring the career of director Ken Loach at the Power to the Pixel Finance Cross-Media Forum today.

"At the project's centre will be an interview-led documentary which explores the different battles that not only inspired Ken's films but have also arisen in the process of getting them made," said producer Rebecca O'Brien, Loach's long-time collaborator at production house Sixteen Films.

Loach's son, Jim Loach, has been commissioned to direct the film, which will feature interviews with the filmmaker's detractors as well as his collaborators.

O'Brien said these "battles" ranged from the political, referring to the rage in the UK's right-wing press over the Palme d'Or-winning The Wind That Shakes The Barley; to the social, as was the case with Cathy Came Home in 1966, which was instrumental in creating the charities Shelter and Crisis; to the anti-establishment with Questions of Leadership, which had challenged union bosses.

A battle even arose over the strong language of the Glaswegian protagonists in his 2002 drama Sweet Sixteen after the British Film Classification Board gave it an 18 certificate.

"We protested that the word 'fuck' was more or less used as punctuation in that part of the world and that 'cunt' was often used as a term of endearment," recalled O'Brien.

"The teenagers that the film was about would not be allowed to watch it because of the arrogant views of people from Middle England far away from their world."

Loach archive discovery

O'Brien explained that The Flickering Flame project had been sparked by the discovery of several archive boxes, packed with production memorabilia from across Loach's career, when London-based Sixteen Films moved office a few years ago.

"It dawned on me that Ken had filled a box for every film he made with his letters, ephemera and other effects and these provide and extraordinary insight into how his films were made," said O'Brien.

The boxes contained films that even close collaborator O'Brien did not know existed, including the documentary Black and White.

The 1970 film, exploring Save The Children's work in the UK and Africa, was commissioned and then banned by the charity because it portrayed the organisation in an "imperialist and authoritarian" light, Loach explained to her. …

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