As the Fringe folds back into hibernation, Glasgow awakens the film scene with a prosperous and dynamic catalogue of forthcoming events. Edinburgh was decisively rumbled by agitprop theatre and site-specific exploration this year, from the militant Belarus Free Theatre group to Cora Bissett’s crushingly bellicose RoadKill; so too does GFT’s September brochure preserve this standard of social confrontation and controversy with its corresponding homage to filmmaker Ken Loach.
This month, London’s BFI marks Loach’s 75th birthday and 50th year behind the camera with a vast retrospective of his work (prepare for shots of open fields and a tinted “everything’s a bit grim up north” veneer). Leading the Glaswegian celebration, GFT is screening four of Loach’s social realist creations: Carla’s Song, My Name is Joe, Sweet Sixteen and Ae Fond Kiss. Pinned under its Cinema City project, which aims to peer at Glasgow’s cultural history through the film lens, the broadcasts offer the chance for the city to honour the career of a social auteur whilst commemorating the depth and merit of its artistic finesse.
While GFT’s choices are unsurprisingly films from Loach’s Scottish anthology, they are eclipsed by what will take place down in London. For the first time since its creation in 1969, Loach’s eponymous Save the Children documentary will be screened, having gained eventual permission from the charity which commissioned and partially financed it. Initially intended as a celebratory film marking the 50th anniversary of the charity’s work, Loach, staunchly political after the making of Cathy Come Home and Kes, set about deconstructing the blackened nature of altruism in a capitalist society. Disgusted by the band-aid zeitgeist we find ourselves in, Loach spotlighted the snobbish, colonial attitudes towards a school set up by STC in Kenya which taught typically English values (whatever that means), as if to Anglofy the African children. Feeling slightly cheated out of the conquering documentary they were so keenly looking for, Save the Children banned the film’s transmission, preserving the negative in the BFI National Archive. Mirroring the socialist viewpoints of theorists like Žižek, who only last year outlined his distrust and condemnation of charity in capitalism, Loach’s documentary will remain a timely and fundamental critique of paternalistic superiority. Perhaps the charity think the film’s influence will be lost after its four decade ban; but if it’s taken them forty years to come up with a response, I rather doubt it.
Bolstering up their Cinema City project, GFT programmers are asking for us regular folk to send in memories of Loach in Glasgow, whether it’s casting calls, down-the-road filming, or if your cat was caught in the background shot of a crumbling red brick wall. And if you’re lucky, the best stories will be featured on the CC website with the chance of winning free tickets to the Loach screenings. Rampant capitalist favouritism; how Loach would hate it. At least there are freebies on offer I suppose.
Carla’s Song – Showing @ Glasgow Film Theatre, Sun 4 Sep @ 19:30
My Name is Joe – Showing @ Glasgow Film Theatre, Sun 11 Sep @ 19:30
Sweet Sixteen – Showing @ Glasgow Film Theatre, Sun 18 Sep @ 17:00
Ae Fond Kiss – Showing @ Glasgow Film Theatre, Sun 25 Sep @ 17:30
Cinema City Project: