is one of the Britain’s most important film-makers. Born in 1936, his directing
career began in television in the 1960s with episodes of the gritty British
police drama Z-Carsfollowed
by the television play Cathy Come Home (1966)
- groundbreaking in the way that it confronted homelessness and unemployment –
before moving into film-making with Poor Cow(1967)
and Kes(1970). Often described as a political film-maker,
his 1995 film Land and Freedomnarrates the
story of David Carr, a British Communist who fights on the republican side
during the Spanish Civil War, while his 2006 film The
Wind That Shakes the Barleydeals with Irish War of Independence and the
subsequent Irish Civil War. He is currently making a documentary on the place
of ‘1945’ in British culture.
Martin Evans: Why is
Gillo Pontecorvo’s film The Battle of
Algiers important for you?
Loach: It was anti-imperialist film.
It told the story from the point of view of ordinary people. It used non-professional actors. It was not over-dramatic. It was low key. It showed the impact of colonialism on
daily lives. These techniques had
an important influence on my film making... I saw the film when it came out in 1966. It was one of a number of films that
Q. Did you know Gillo
I met Gillo Pontecorvo through the Venice Film Festival and we became good
friends. I chided him for not
making more films. A lovely man,
with a twinkle in his eye, he was very political. He was a communist.
He had been a partisan in the Italian Resistance and this clearly
influenced the way in which he made the film.
Q. How does The Battle of Algiers continue to speak
to the contemporary world?
It continues to speak to the contemporary world because of imperialism, because
of what the USA and Britain are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. The film is about the coercion of the
local population. But it is also
about how a local population can use local knowledge to win a guerrilla war... As long as imperialism is around it
will be an important film.
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