Of kestrels and controversies: celebrating Ken Loach at 75

David Bradley in Kes

David Bradley in Kes

Ken Loach’s 75th birthday was always going to be worth celebrating. Combine that landmark with 50 years in the film industry and London’s BFI had the perfect excuse for a retrospective, taking in Loach’s earliest work right up to his most recent endeavour.

The director’s career began as it would continue, with controversial subject matter that raised both eyebrows and debate. Although not his first piece of television, Cathy Come Home (1966) certainly increased Loach’s profile, its stark look at the lives of those affected by unemployment and homelessness shocking a British public not used to seeing such topics on TV.

Loach’s staunchly socialist beliefs, combined with politically-charged subject matter and a naturalistic style, would go on to mark him as one of Britain’s most individual directors.

Whether focusing on the British welfare system in Ladybird, Ladybird (1994),  Nicaraguan refugees in Carla’s Song (1996) or workers rights in America in Bread and Roses (2000), Loach maintained his unwavering focus on the relationships at the centre of the drama, winning awards and a loyal fan base along the way.

The BFI’s month-long retrospective takes in all of the above films and many more, including, for the full duration, a newly restored Park Circus re-release of Loach’s most popular film, 1969’s Kes. Set in Yorkshire, David Bradley stars as young Billy Casper who finds solace from a harsh upbringing in the friendship of a kestrel.

For those unable to make it to London’s Southbank for the BFI’s celebration, Kes will be shown at a number of UK cinemas and available for screening at cinemas around the world from 9 September.

The BFI’s Ken Loach season runs from Wednesday 7 September until Wednesday 12 October, with booking details available on the BFI website.

Find out if Kes is screening near you by visiting www.backincinemas.com.

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