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More troubling is the story of the play Perdition. Written by his long-time collaborator, Jim Allen (Loach calls him “a wonderful socialist”), the play was to be directed at the Royal Court by Loach but was cancelled because of accusations of bias and anti-Semitism. It was based on a libel action concerning the alleged collaboration between the wartime Zionist leadership in Hungary and the Nazis. Loach passionately defended the play and later wrote to the Guardian that “the charge of anti-Semitism” against Allen’s play was “the time-honoured way to deflect anti-Zionist arguments”. 

Loach has been an obsessive critic of Israel and has called for an “absolute boycott of all the cultural happenings supported by the Israeli state”. He told an interviewer last year: “Israel is breaking international law, the Geneva Conventions, stealing land that belongs to another people and making the lives of the Palestinians intolerable.”

A passionate supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, he has been accused of being evasive about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland quoted Loach as saying, “It’s funny these stories suddenly appeared when Jeremy Corbyn became leader, isn’t it?” Writing on the Jewish Voice for Labour website, Loach called this “cynical journalism”. A year later, his response looks even worse.   

And yet despite all this, the more left-wing and partisan his films are, the more prizes he wins.  This tells us more about those who give out European film awards than it does about the quality of Loach’s work. It is simply inconceivable that a conservative film-maker would have received the same kind of acclaim. Loach has supported the poor and the oppressed, but these were always fashionable causes in British television in the 1960s and ‘70s and have become increasingly popular among European film juries.

The telling gap, though, is between the numbers who go to see Loach’s films and the number of prizes he wins. The Wind That Shakes the Barley, his biggest box office success to date, grossed barely £5 million in the UK, I, Daniel Blake little more than £3 million. In the US the figures are even worse. This tells a larger story about left-wing cultural figures. They are hugely popular among critics and prize juries, less so among viewers. Perhaps we should ask the heretical question: does the public rate Ken Loach more accurately than critics and prize juries?
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Lawrence James.
June 3rd, 2018
8:06 PM
Sorry for the typo. Not sorry for being an elitist: like the rest of us I depend upon elites - solicitors, architects,vets, electricians, doctors &c. In brief, all those people with professional expertise and experience. I am not a leftist, having voted Tory since Douglas Hume was PM,but I have no truck with the new, populist right.

May 23rd, 2018
5:05 AM
I wish he'd use a tripod: that faux-nervous/pseudo-documentary handheld camera may have been 'edgy' forty years ago, but now is just naff.

May 16th, 2018
10:05 AM
'He told an interviewer last year: “Israel is breaking international law, the Geneva Conventions, stealing land that belongs to another people and making the lives of the Palestinians intolerable.” Presumably if he'd said: “Israel is not breaking international law, or the Geneva Conventions, or stealing land that belongs to another people and is not making the lives of the Palestinians intolerable” he would have been praised for being biased in his view of Israel government policies.

Anglican Honza
May 15th, 2018
9:05 PM
Whether it is cause and effect I don't know but I find most news programs in the UK to be unwatchable because of their relentless Loach-like spin.

May 15th, 2018
9:05 PM
Lawrence James, if you can't get the name of the film (and the famous song it is taken from) right, don't bother to comment. 'And yet despite all this, the more left-wing and partisan his films are, the more prizes he wins.' The first three words should surely be replaced with 'And of course, because of'.

Sam Duncan
May 15th, 2018
5:05 PM
“would you ask the public to judge artworks or novels ?“ The art establishment derided the impressionists. “Citizen Kane” didn't win a single Oscar (nor did “Rebel Without a Cause” or “Psycho”; the list of films that weren't even nominated is staggering: “His Girl Friday”, “A Matter of Life and Death”, “The Lady Vanishes”, “A Bout de Souffle”...). When I compare what the public think, and what awards panels think, sure, they're not always “right”, but the public tend to have a much better strike rate. I think we'd agree on the “Da Vinci Code”, but what exactly is wrong with “The Sound of Music”? Not to my taste, but a perfectly good movie. The Academy finally awarded Jimmy Stewart, widely regarded as possibly the finest movie actor who ever lived, an honorary Oscar after a fifty year career in 1985. Probably out of embarrassment. The public knew.

May 15th, 2018
2:05 PM
Lawrence James: with that one little phrase "would you ask the public to judge artworks or novels ?" You have shown us what an elitist lefty you are. How ironic that those of a more metropolitan left-wing persuasion spend their time looking down their noses at the 'great unwashed,' for whom they claim to speak.

Steve Hunt
May 15th, 2018
1:05 PM
I'm intrigued to know if these works of Ken's were in part, if not completely funded by Arts Quangos/NGOs in the UK.. and whether, if he had to find the funding for them on the open market, like a lot of other producers, whether he would still keep on churning out these polemics? Just a thought.

Little Black Sambo
May 15th, 2018
10:05 AM
"...would you ask the public to judge artworks or novels?" Heaven forbid! We can't have the public meddling in things that they don't understand.

peter lucey
May 15th, 2018
10:05 AM
"Whenever you see a Loach film you know what you are going to get" I'm not a close student of his work, but I'd agree with that. He's a talented filmmaker with an axe to grind. This gets in the way sometimes: I saw "I Daniel Blake" and the polemic spoilt it. Well acted, but the experience was like being hit on the head repeatedly. The poor single mother forced into prostitution (and collapsing at the foodbank) was well staged - but where were the fathers of her two children? Having one child by a feckless man is one thing, but two by different deadbeats? What if she decided to have another, by some guy who just abandoned them again? Am I, a poor taxpayer, supposed to pay out even more? (and would'nt she be jailed for non-payment for BBC licence fee? - mind you, the BBC funded it so Loach probably skipped that!). These non-PC feelings were inspired by the one-sided story. Please Mr Loach, make more films but be more nuanced :)

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