Ken Loach: interview

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The filmmaker whose work has cast a caustic eye over British society from ‘Kes’ to ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ is one of Time Out London’s 40th birthday heroes

See all Time Out's 40th birthday London heroes

Your London heroes?

'Joan Littlewood. Charles Dickens, of course. George Lansbury, the famous east London MP who led the Labour Party after the right-wing split, which is prescient now. John Keats, the poet. The two men who led the London dock strike at the end of the nineteenth century, Ben Tillett and Tom Mann, which really started the trade union movement to represent the militant London working class. Bobby Moore, of course, for football.'

Do you have a favourite place or thing in London?

'The most enjoyable things are the old eighteenth-century terraces that are still standing, that domestic architecture. Then there’s the old Bertorelli’s in Charlotte Street. The Duke of York’s Theatre. The old Craven Cottage stadium at Fulham, before they built the river stand; that was a great place to watch football. When the football wasn’t very good, people used to turn around and watch the boats on the river. I used to follow Fulham in those days, in the ’60s and ’70s. Finally, there’s Highgate Cemetery and Dr Johnson’s house, which is off the Strand.'

What’s your favourite personal moment in the city?

'We went to hear Otto Klemperer playing the Beethoven symphonies at the Royal Festival Hall umpteen years ago. That was magical, mainly because the guy had a stroke and his struggle to conduct seemed to match the struggle of the music. Also, were the two million people at the anti-war demonstration 2003, which was extraordinary.'

What’s the future for your field?

'Not great – there needs to be political action to defend independent cinemas, to protect them. I think the Norweigan model of municipalities owning cinemas and being programmed by people who know about films is a good one. Otherwise the logic of the market will squeeze out most films and kill choice.'
See all Time Out's 40th birthday London heroes

Author: Dave Calhoun



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