Ken Loach is celebrating his 75th birthday party in style, with a comprehensive retrospective of his work hosted by the British Film Institute that includes the long-banned documentary he produced for Save the Children charity in 1969.
It sounds surreal — banning a doc that he produced for a kid’s charity? — but the film never aired on London Weekend Television as intended. The Guardian explains:
The reasons for the ban remain obscure. It seems to have had something to do with the director’s pugnacious take on race, class and charity in a capitalist society, or perhaps the quotation from Engels that prefaced what was supposed to be a celebration of the charity’s 50th anniversary.
Our money’s on the Engels. Radical politics dominate much of Loach’s filmography, particularly the portion of it made during this early stage of his career. The film was made just three years after his TV debut, “Cathy Come Home,” which remains a fierce indictment of lower class persecution to this day (watch it on Loach’s official YouTube channel).
The BFI’s recognition is hardly the first major honor the British director has received over the course of his diverse career, which stretches back to TV productions in the early ’60s and arguably culminated with the Palme d’Or awarded to “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” in 2006. But this one not only acknowledges Loach’s output; it fills in the gaps.
“Cathy” and the rest of Loach’s films will screen at the BFI for two months beginning in September. The Save the Children documentary screens on September 1.