How many commissioned documentary filmmakers have the guts to make a movie that criticizes their very backers?
British maverick and die-hard leftist Ken Loach–director of “Kes,” “The Wind that Shakes the Barley,” and “Looking for Eric”–did just that more than four decades ago, at the beginning of his filmmaking career. The 1969 53-minute documentary made for and latter banned by the organization Save the Children was quickly axed by the organization and never seen again, except for archivists at the British Film Institute–until now.
According to the BBC News, the film was recently shown to an audience of critics and colleagues in London, in advance of its Sept. 1 public premiere as part of a major retrospective of the British director’s work.
The film takes a critical view of the charity’s work in the UK and Kenya, showing Save the Children employees making disparaging remarks and a institution in Nairobi where children were forbidden to converse in their native tongues and inculcated in the ways of British rule.
“We went [to Kenya] with an open mind to see what the work was,” said Loach. “When we got there, we were absolutely staggered.”
“It was clear to us the function of the school was to provide a middle class to run the civil service and create the veneer of independence.”
In discussing the British poverty of the 1960s on display in the film, Loach also said it was “surprising” that England’s urban riots did not happen sooner.
“I think if you’ve got a million young people unemployed that will have an impact,” he told the BBC News.
“There’s an alienated, disaffected population of mainly young people who have no stake in society and seemingly no future. Traditionally when young people were growing up, they were introduced into the adult world through work. They don’t have that now. I think it’s surprising it hasn’t happened before.”