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Put me in, Loach!

Acclaimed British filmmaker Ken Loach has been directing for more than 40 years, always delivering films infused with a sense of social realism. Coinciding with the release this Friday of The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Cinematheque Ontario is presenting Wind of Change: The Cinema of Ken Loach, a retrospective look at 22 of his titles.

Though each important, three films stand out from the rest: Cathy Come Home, a catalyst for social change in the 1960s; Kes, the director’s beloved masterpiece; and Ae Fond Kiss, an award-winning departure of sorts making its Toronto debut.

Produced for the BBC as part of its Wednesday Play series, Loach’s legendary 1966 Cathy Come Home, still regarded as one of the BBC’s more controversial films, deals with the effect of unemployment on a young couple and the eventual loss of their children to Social Services. Viewed by a quarter of the British population when it first aired, this film sparked mass public debate and social change. Cathy Come Home screens March 29 at 6:30 p.m.

Two years after his first theatrical feature, Poor Cow, Loach released Kes. This landmark 1969 film was ranked seventh by the British Film Institute on its list of favourite 20th-century British films. It follows the life of a small-town boy who has few options and little hope for the future until he befriends a falcon. Kes screens March 24 at 8:45 p.m. and again on March 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Showing in Toronto for the first time, the multiple award winning Ae Fond Kiss is a Shakespearean tale of two star-crossed lovers. A second-generation Pakistani man living in Glasgow is set to marry his arranged bride, bringing joy to his devout Muslim family. Things get complicated when he falls in love with an Irish Catholic woman. Screening April 22 at 3 p.m.

– Wind of Change: The Cinema of Ken Loach runs from March 23 to May 12 in Jackman Hall at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W. For ticket information and a complete listing of screenings, visit

National Post
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Page: AL5
Section: Arts & Life
Byline: Philip Alves