Cannes: Ken Loach Not Giving Up Fictional Filmmaking (Exclusive)

Ken Loach

The veteran British director, who is set to compete at Cannes a record 12th time, says he was in the heat of a preproduction battle when he previously said he was planning to make documentaries.

Veteran British director Ken Loach said he is not planning to give up making narrative fictional films to concentrate on documentaries just yet.

Loach created consternation and anxiety among his fans and international festival programmers alike earlier this year when he said his current Irish drama, Jimmy's Hall, was to be his last fiction feature so he could focus on documentary work.

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Written by Loach's long-term collaborator Paul Laverty, Jimmy's Hall is set to unspool In Competition at this month's Cannes Film Festival.

The screening will make the filmmaker, who will turn 78 in June this year, the most invited director in the festival's history.

Loach told THR that when he said he was giving up fictional filmmaking for documentaries he was in the heat of a preproduction battle for Jimmy's Hall.

"I kind of thought I wouldn't get through another one just as we were beginning Jimmy's Hall because it's a moment of maximum pressure when you haven't shot a thing but you're knackered from all the prep, and you've been away from home for a long time and you still have to get through the shoot," Loach said.

"It's quite a daunting prospect, the effort you've got to find from somewhere and the nervous and emotional energy and all that. But now having come out the other side, while I'm not sure we'll get another of that size away, we'll at least get a little film together of some sort [with Paul Laverty] more akin to a documentary scale."

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While Loach said there is nothing on the horizon yet, "a small contemporary film may be a possibility."

For many years, Loach has been more greatly appreciated in mainland Europe than in the U.K., with the bulk of the financing for his films, and the largest portion of their box office, coming from the continent.

The British filmmaker and renowned socialist has won prizes in Cannes dating back to 1979's Black Jack, and took home the Palme d’Or for 2006's Irish war of independence and civil war drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley, written by Laverty. He also won the Cannes jury prize for The Angel's Share, written by Laverty.

In all, Loach will have walked the Croisette's famous red carpet a staggering 12 times.

He also received the honorary lifetime achievement Golden Bear during this year's Berlin International Film Festival.

In addition to the Golden Bear, Berlin also paid homage to the British filmmaker with special screenings of his work stretching across his half century in the business, from the TV movie Cathy Come Home (1966) through his international breakthrough Kes (1969) to My Name Is Joe (1998), Sweet Sixteen (2002) and Looking for Eric (2009).

The Festival de Cannes runs May 14-25.