Angels’ Share: Interview with Ken Loach
The British director Ken Loach has won prizes in Cannes Film Fest dating back to 1979’s “Black Jack.” He won the top prize, the Palme d’Or for 2006’s “The Wind That Shakes The Barley.” Loach’s films have been in Cannes’ Main Competition a record of 10 times.
His latest movie, “The Angels’ Share,” teams him with writer and regular collaborator Paul Laverty in a light romp about down-on-their-luck former cons trying to go straight.
Writer Paul Laverty
Ken Loach: It’s a very close partnership and you have to see the world in the same way and share the same sense of humor. We share a curiosity and interest about developing what we are trying to do with our projects. I think Paul’s writing gets more and more complex and richer with each film he does and his desire to confound expectations is strong. You see a stereotype and know that the reverse will also be true. Finding the contradictions on the page is something we share and want to do.
Tone of New Film
Loach: “Route Irish,” the last film I did with Paul, is a very harsh film with a tough ending for audiences, and I think we felt we wanted to do something with a bit of a smile for people at the end of it. Of course the world doesn’t change, and it’s a bleak place for the people we are describing and portraying, but they themselves deal with it with humor and compassion and show a resolution to get through the hard times.
Tragedy or Comedy
Loach: You could absolutely tell the same story, without wanting to give too much away, as a tragedy, but we wanted to make sure the film carried the people’s ability to be sharp, witty and aware with humor.
Angels’ Share and Other Films
Loach: Riff Raff, Raining Stones and Looking for Eric did have similar characters in that they all come from the same working class background and the central characters are all trying to find a way to change the issues.
Inspiration from Working Class
Loach: I think it is central to my filmmaking philosophy. Generally speaking [the working classes] are presented in a 2D, stereotypical way so they can be glossed over in films. So it is always my intention to describe and celebrate them in a different way. Our aim is to put them central stage and explore their contradictions, hopes, humor and lives without patronizing anyone. The overriding point to it all for me is at that any change [to society] will come from the working classes and noone else because everyone else is striving to look after the status quo and protect themselves.
Casting Unknown Actors
Loach: One of the main characters is played by Paul Brannigan, who had never done this sort of work before. He’s bright, feisty and a sharp lad and he ends up making his character sympathetic even though his character doesn’t start out that way. I think you find amongst ordinary people there are a lot of people that are really talented. It’s more interesting to see new people on the screen when you go to the cinema. I don’t want to see the same old faces.
Editorial Control over Work
Loach: Yes. You can’t work properly otherwise. You can’t have responsibility for the film if you can’t take and make the key decisions. I share final cut decisions with [producer] Rebecca O’Brien, Paul and [long time collaborator] editor Jonathan Morris. It’s a collaborative effort for me on the authoring of the film.
Loach: It’s all about collaboration, the whole thing. It’s the opposite to the way most people think when they hear the label auteur. I think people think of auteurs as being a dictator shouting over everyone about his vision. That’s not the way I think of auteurs or the way I work.
Cannes Film Festival
Loach: I still get nervous going to Cannes. I always think the audiences will be quite vigorous with you and your film and not do you any favors when considering the reaction.
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