Oxford Brookes University undergraduates from Film Studies, Communications, Media and Culture and Business and Marketing Management were treated to a candid discussion with award winning British director, Ken Loach, during the opening night of the Oxford Human Rights Festival 2017. The director took the time to have an informal round table with a select number of students during the screening of his BAFTA award-winning masterpiece I, Daniel Blake.
These cineastes were unaware that morning that they would be spending the evening with one of the country’s most beloved filmmakers. Loach shared insights into his successful career in the British film industry, from his casting tips (drop your pencil to make a fool out of yourself and make the actors feel more comfortable), to his lasting relationship with his writers (your ideas matter more than your spelling!). It was a real once in a lifetime opportunity for the present filmmakers in the group to listen so closely to a filmmaker with more than six decades of experience and knowledge.
But Loach was most interested in speaking to the group about socio-political issues. He displayed his driving passion for the working class members of British society and the influence that this has had on all of his work. He asked the group about their political views in light of today’s political climate, noting how important it is for young people to remain engaged with current debates. The group discussed the Labour Party in particular and Loach’s political standpoint.
The director was particularly honoured to have his film screened at a human rights festival. He showed great interest in our festival and the work that the committee members had done to put together such a successful programme. He emphasised the importance of being politically aware for up and coming filmmakers, suggesting that the issues you tackle are always more powerful than the star names attached to a project.
Whatever the topic, whether it was Angelina Jolie or Jeremy Corbyn, Loach displayed great wit as well as wisdom and kindness. He encouraged the group of students to lead the conversation and asked the students as many questions as they asked him. Each and every student came away from the discussion warmed by his personable nature and with a new passion to create, and engage with the biggest issues we face in society today.
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Throughout the semester members of the student committee will take turns to write a blog. It might be about organising the Festival, it might be about something else they are doing in or away from Brookes, it might be thoughts on our theme of home. Check in regularly to find out!