Thiruvananthapuram

Angry at issues of the downtrodden

I, Daniel Blake, the latest film by Ken Loach won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

I, Daniel Blake, the latest film by Ken Loach won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year.  

Thiruvananthapuram: He was angry in the 1960s, when he started out making films. He is still angry in 2016, at the age of 80, fresh from his latest triumph on screen. What kind of a person are you, if you are not feeling anger seeing what is happening around you, he asks. Ken Loach, the British filmmaker has pursued with single-minded determination the issues that have always made him angry - unemployment, homelessness, the slow dismantling of welfare systems and the other issues of the working class.

Loach has been called a partisan, a propagandist and as someone who has been making the same kind of films, forever. But he has pointed at how such questions are never asked when the lives of affluent are celebrated day in and day out, and how only questions are asked of the rare voices to talk about the issues of the down-trodden.

The 21st edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) to be held from December 9 will have a retrospective of Ken Loach’s films, right from the works of his early days to his latest ‘I, Daniel Blake’, which won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

This perhaps is the apt time to catch his body of work, when a majority of the country’s working class is out on the streets, to withdraw a part of their own hard-earned income. Loach began his career with a television drama ‘Cathy come home’ on the struggles of a young women with unemployment and homelessness and her fight to keep custody of her children.

Like many of his other films, it sparked off wide public debate and led even to the birth of organisations to focus on these issues. However, the issues that he has highlighted have only worsened over the years, as states abdicated from the responsibility of running welfare schemes, a fact he acknowledges in his latest film. These films thus strike us closer home, as we have also been witnessing the continuous cut down on welfare spending, for mid-day meal schemes, for anganwadis, for employment guarantee scheme and in health spending.

Even when handling a subject like the Irish war for independence, like he did in his 2006 classic ‘The wind that shakes the barley’, he viewed it from a working class perspective. In ‘Hidden agenda’, he did an “anti-national” act by questioning Britain for its state-sponsored terrorism in Northern Ireland.

True to his character, he has released many of his films on YouTube for free, dumping the rules of the ‘market’. The films to be screened at the Loach retrospective at the IFFK are ‘Hidden agenda’, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, ‘The angel’s share’, ‘Riff-raff’, ‘Looks and smiles’, ‘Looking for Eric’, ‘Land and freedom’, ‘Kes’ and ‘Fatherland’.

His films are a reality check for those privileged enough to ask the most repeated question these days – “But, why can’t they just do a card or online transaction?”

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 6:36:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/angry-at-issues-of-the-downtrodden/article16672849.ece1

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