Ken Loach just started shooting a new film called ‘The Old Oak’

And here’s everything we know about it

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen
Global film editor
A portrait of the director Ken Loach
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Thought Ken Loach was retiring? Not likely. The legendary British filmmaker is back with a new migrant drama set in the north east of England. It’s called The Old Oak and it’ll be with us in 2023.

Cannes Film Festival week seems like a serendipitous time for the two-time Palme d’Or winner to start work on a new film. He’s filming it in County Durham – the third film in a row that he’s based in the north east of England, after Sorry We Missed You and I, Daniel Blake – and it charts a Syrian migrant’s experiences of a close-knit mining community that has fallen upon hard times.

In age-old Loach fashion, The Old Oak stars a relative newcomer in Sorry We Missed You’s Dave Turner, as well as first-time actor Ebla Mari.

The ‘Old Oak’ of the title is the last pub standing in that community – and the only remaining public space where people can meet in a once thriving-mining community at the end of 30 years of decline. Runs the synopsis: ‘Landlord TJ Ballantyne (Turner) hangs on to The Old Oak by his fingertips, and his predicament is endangered even more when the pub becomes contested territory after the arrival of Syrian refugees who are placed in the village without any notice.’

Written by his long-time screenwriter Paul Laverty, it’ll chart TJ’s unlikely friendship with a curious young Syrian called Yara [Ebla Mari] with her camera and promises a story of mutual understanding, fragility and hope. 

Expect another run at the Palme d’Or for this evergreen filmmaker. 

Read Ken Loach on Sorry We Missed You, Hollywood movies and doing the garden.

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