Six decades of unwavering, social realist filmmaking and it’s great to see Ken Loach has lost none of his bite.
If winning a BAFTA last night for his critically acclaimed drama about hardship under Tory austerity, I, Daniel Blake, wasn’t enough of a wakeup call to the British government, the 80-year-old then used his speech to deliver a rousing message to the establishment.
Scooping the prize for Outstanding British Film, presented by Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, the veteran filmmaker criticised the “callous brutality” of the current Government and its attitude towards “the most vulnerable and the poorest people.” Not done there, Loach also brought up the government’s approach to the Syrian crisis, claiming the Tories’ disgraceful cruelty” now “extends to keeping out refugee children”.
The irony of the occasion wasn’t lost on him either, noting the grandeur of the spectacle inside the Royal Albert Hall - designer suits, shiny gongs, and audience full of people who’ll never likely need to raid a food bank to survive – should be ignored, and that, at heart, all filmmakers, all storytellers, care about people first.
Drawing hearty applause from the crowd, Loach also talked about the power of film - “they can entertain, they can terrify, they can take us to worlds of the imagination, they can make us laugh, and they can tell us about the world we live in” – and then issued a stern warning that worse times are to come: “in that world it’s getting darker, as we know, and in the struggle that’s coming between the rich and the powerful, the wealth and the privilege, and the big corporations, and the politicians who speak to them.”
Soothsayer, socialist, seriously lovely man.