Ken Loach on banned documentaries and ‘the downward spiral’

HARDtalk: Ken Loach, Film Director

First broadcast on BBC News at 12:30 am–1:00 am on Friday 23rd September.

Available until 4:59 am Saturday 22nd September 2012.

Click here for link to BBC iplayer.

As thoughtful and lucid as ever, film-maker Ken Loach, who has now reached 75, spoke to Sarah Montague on subjects ranging from the recent riots, the Labour Party and the failings of Leftist politics more generally, and naturally enough, film-making:

KL: I think the way the world has developed, the downward spiral gets more and more intense, and that what is happening in the world becomes more extreme with every year.”

SM: What do you mean: “the downward spiral”? The downward spiral into what?

KL: The downward spiral into economic chaos; into alienation. To take one example, when I was a kid, politicians would promise and try to promote full employment. Nobody speaks of that now.”

The British Film Institute at Southbank in London are running a retrospective of Loach’s work beginning today and finishing on October 12th.

One of the films being shown is a documentary commissioned in 1969 by ITV’s London Weekend Television to mark the 50th anniversary of the Save the Children charity. However, the film that Loach subsequently made was deemed to be so damaging that the charity refused to allow it to be broadcast, asking for it to be destroyed, although instead, and after a somewhat bizarre legal deal was struck, it was allowed to be kept in a vault at the BFI. Having been rediscovered 40 years later, the charity have now granted permission for it to be shown.

The film, which was shot partly in the UK and partly in Kenya, visited the Starehe School for street boys in Nairobi:

An American teacher at the school says: ‘I cannot conceive of a school anywhere else in the world where the mother language is not allowed to be spoken on campus.

‘These boys are segregated from Africa. If a boy loses contact with his culture, who is he?’1

In the same Daily Mail article about the film, Loach says:

‘Save The Children thought that we were on the side of the angels and, without any self-awareness, they felt they were too.

‘The bigotry, particularly with the benefit of hindsight of 40 years, is just intolerable.’

During the 1980’s Loach made another series of documentaries about the leaders of the trade union movement and how they were complicit in enabling Thatcher’s reforms. These films were also banned.

1 From an article entitled “Banned Ken Loach charity documentary to be shown after 42 years” written by Sally Beck, published in the Daily Mail on August 21, 2011.

1 Comment

Filed under Britain, did you see?, Kenya, Uncategorized

One response to “Ken Loach on banned documentaries and ‘the downward spiral’

  1. nools

    I saw this as well, it was particularly interesting. The BBC remains the same though. For as long as i can remember, when they get him on, they always try to trip him up and make him look like an extremist.


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