At 77, British filmmaker and Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach didn’t disappoint with his latest film, “Jimmy’s Hall,” offering up what Indiewire’s Eric Kohn described as his “most enjoyable effort in years” at the Cannes Film Festival today. He also didn’t show any signs of waning during the press conference following the screening, during which Loach — a director as candid as they come — addressed why he feels cinema only adds to “the public discourse a very small amount,” and why that’s actually a good thing.
“If films were to have a big influence, it would be probably be very negative,” Loach said, “because they would probably endorse great wealth. They would endorse America as the home of peace and democracy, and defender of the freedom.”
Loach said that he hopes that films don’t have a huge effect on society for those very reasons.
Unlike the types of films Loach referenced in his statement, his latest, like the bulk of his features, centers on the working class. “Jimmy’s Hall,” which Loach described as a companion piece to his 2006 Palme d’Or winner “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” takes place ten or so years after the events of that film. His new work centers on charismatic Irish communist leader Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward), who infuriated the leaders of Ireland’s post-civil war church and state for founding a local dance hall in his hometown for townsfolk to gather and let loose.
Rumors had been swirling pre-Cannes that “Jimmy’s Hall” would mark the filmmaker’s swan song, but Loach downplayed them today, saying that’s not likely as “it’s a hard job to give up.” He said that he hinted about retirement to the press before shooting on “Jimmy’s Hall” had begun. “We hadn’t shot a foot of film,” he said, “and the mountain in front of us was quite high. You come up on the other end.”
If Loach does indeed make another film, you can bet it won’t be shot digitally. With Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne here in competition with their first digital feature “Two Days, One Night,” Loach was asked why he hasn’t followed suit and embraced the new age. For Loach, it all boils down to editing.
“We not only shot on film, we cut on film,” Loach said. “It’s very good because it’s not as quick as digital [cutting], so you consider what you do more carefully. It’s a much more human way of working. The film industry is like any other – it’s about speed and cutting the people involved in doing the job. We’re going to carry on cutting on film.”