Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach is now available on the iPlayer here. Once it’s available on Youtube you’ll find it posted here on Pulse. The following video, for the time being, is the trailer.
Biographical documentary. Ken Loach reflects on his often controversial career, with comments from colleagues, friends and family.
Ken Loach’s documentary about the 1984 UK Miners Strike and the Tory government’s vicious campaign of violence which finally subdued it. The film features the miners and their families experiences told through songs, poems and other art.
The following is Ken Loach’s contribution to 11’09″01 September 11 a film in which French director Alain Brigand invited leading film makers from 11 different nations to provide their own impression of the September 11 attacks in 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame. Loach’s contribution won the the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Prize for Best Short Film.
Scottish writer Paul Laverty and British director Ken Loach issued a joint statement on December 1st (commemorating the anniversary of Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her bus seat for a white passenger) in support of Western Saharan human rights activist Aminatou Haidar. Haidar is in the third week of a hunger strike after being deported against her will by Moroccan authorities occupying her homeland. You can watch Democracy Now!’s coverage of Haidar’s plight here.
Statement concerning Sahrawi human right’s activist Aminatou Haidar
Haidar’s boarding card and Rosa Parks’s seat
On the 1st December 1955, in Montgommery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to obey a bus driver and give up her seat to a white passenger. On Friday the 13th of November 2009 Aminatou Haidar refused to fill out her boarding card as instructed by the authorities in Laayoun (where she lives) in Morocco controlled Western Sahara.
It is not often we hear of bosses voluntarily sharing profits, so it was with some delight we heard the good news that the Chief Executive, Nurit Shani, of Lev Cinemas and Films in Israel will use the profits from our film “Looking for Eric” to benefit Israeli film makers. We hope this new found determination to redistribute wealth will be matched by her wisdom in choosing to support those film-makers most starved of resources. Logically, that would mean those brave free spirits in the Israeli artistic community who decide to respect the cultural boycott and refuse to accept any funds from the Israeli State. Who knows, but perhaps some time in the future Nurit Shani’s vision will help kick start projects about those courageous Isreali soldiers who formed the group “Breaking the Silence” and spoke out against the “reckless and gratuitous use of white phosphorous” in civilian areas in Gaza, and were appalled by the use of Palestinians as human shields? Perhaps too we will be fortunate to watch films about those young men and women in Israeli prisons who refuse to join the Israeli army because of the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. And why not include Palestinian film makers or is Israel really an apartheid State?
When we decided to pull our film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne film festival following our discovery that the festival was in part sponsored by the Israeli state we wrote to the Director Richard Moore with our detailed reasons. Continually he has dishonestly misrepresented us and does so again (Comment is Free 27th Aug ‘09) by stating that “to allow the personal politics of one film maker to proscribe a festival position…..goes against the grain of what festivals stand for.” Later “Loach’s demands were beyond the pale”. Once again Mr Moore, this decision was taken by three film makers, (director, producer, writer) not in some private abstract bubble, but after long discussion between us and in response to a call for a cultural boycott, including film festivals, from a wide spectrum of Palestinian civil society, including writers, film makers, cultural workers, human rights groups, journalists, trade unions, women’s groups, student organizations and many more besides. As Moore should know by now “The Palestine Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel” (PACBI) was launched in Ramallah in April 2004, and its aims, reasons, and constituent parts are widely available on the net. This in turn is part of a much wider international movement for “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction” (B. D. S.) against the Israeli State.
As you may have heard by now, British film legend Ken Loach has pulled out of the Melbourne Film Festival because the organizers’ refusal to observe the cultural boycott of Israel. Following is an exchange of letters that took place between Loach, long-time co-writer Paul Laverty, co-producer Rebecca O’Brien and Richard Moore, the director of the MFF. Recall that earlier Ken Loach had drawn hysterical responses from the media when he pressured the Edinburgh Film Festival to return the funding they had received from the Israeli embassy.
Letter to the Director of Melbourne Film Festival 2009
13th July 2009
Dear Richard Moore
Sadly, we learn that your festival is sponsored in part by the State of Israel.
As you are no doubt aware, many Palestinians, including artists and academics, have called for a boycott of events supported by Israel. There are many reasons for this; the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, destruction of homes and livelihoods, the massacres in Gaza, all are part of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.
Legendary British filmmaker Ken Loach lays out succinctly the case for the cultural boycott of Israel in this response to an open letter from the Israeli film maker Tali Shalom Ezer, published below (via the Russell Tribunal on Palestine).
Dear Tali Shalom Ezer,
From the beginning, Israel and its supporters have attacked their critics as anti-semites or racists. It is a tactic to undermine rational debate.
To be crystal clear: as a film maker you will receive a warm welcome in Edinburgh. You are not censored or rejected. The opposition was to the Festival’s taking money from the Israeli state.
The call for a boycott of Israeli cultural institutions comes from many Palestinians: writers, artists, journalists, lawyers, academics, trades unionists, teachers. They see it as “a contribution to the struggle to end Israel ’s occupation, colonisation and system of apartheid.” Who are we, that we should not heed their call? Your counter arguments were used against the South African boycott yet that proved eventually to be successful.
The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel continues to gain leverage every day as more people become aware of Israel’s atrocities. Many argue that the BDS movement must penetrate every aspect of society for it to be fully effective at encouraging people to demand that Israel halt its policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid against Palestinians. The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has accordingly agreed to return funds provided by the Israeli Embassy to finance the visit of Israeli filmmaker Tali Shalom-Ezer. While Ginnie Atkinson from the EIFF continues to insist that the decision was not politically motivated, she prefaces her explanation for the move by stating that: