Director Ken Loach inspires film students at Oxford Brookes

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ken Loach visit 1

BAFTA-winning director Ken Loach visited Oxford Brookes University yesterday (14 March) to open the 15th annual Oxford Human Rights Festival.

Ken came to the University to introduce a screening of his hard-hitting, multi award-winning film I, Daniel Blake (2015) and deliver a Q&A session in conversation with Paul Inman, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Oxford Brookes.

The film tells the story of Daniel who worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. For the first time ever, he ends up needing help from the State. He crosses paths with single mother Katie and her two young children. Together they find themselves in no-man’s land, caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern-day Britain.

The popular event drew a crowd of over 300 people, including University staff and students as well as members of the public.

Ken Loach visit 2

Speaking during the Q&A, Ken said: “It’s quite interesting to be opening a festival on human rights with this film because we’re accustomed to thinking of human rights as being an issue in other countries.

“We’re accustomed to thinking of it in countries where there are dictatorships or where there is brutal government or where there are particular issues of oppression.”

He went on to say: “The abuse of human rights in this country of these people is what’s happening and it’s on a colossal scale.”

Ken also took the time to chat to film students who have been involved in organising this year’s Human Rights Festival.

Ken Loach visit 3

“It’s a huge privilege making films really. To be able to work with writers, to work in this medium, to be able to present a view of the world and tell stories that you think might have some significance. To work in the medium, in actual celluloid, and we still shoot this way as I was talking to the film students about. It’s a huge privilege and not one you’d give up lightly.

“If you’re able to, as we’ve managed to do, to try and make some commentary on what is happening in the world and the way the world is and the conflicts that you see and the experiences that people have. There are so many stories to tell and so many people who invite you into their lives and into their communities and say: 'Please try and let other people know what’s happening'."

He also discussed the important role of writers in film making.

The writer is the most important person in doing a film and again this is something I shared with the film students, the writer is the most important, not the director. The writer confronts a blank piece of paper and that’s the challenge. When he or she has written something, I’ve got something to work with and its easy then. I’ve worked with a number of writers and they’ve all been fantastic.

Ken Loach

“The writer is the most important person in doing a film and again this is something I shared with the film students, the writer is the most important, not the director. The writer confronts a blank piece of paper and that’s the challenge. When he or she has written something, I’ve got something to work with and it's easy then. I’ve worked with a number of writers and they’ve all been fantastic.”

The theme of this year’s Oxford Human Rights Festival is ‘Home’ and poses the question “What does home mean to you?” It will explore key issues surrounding this question, including the refugee crisis, the housing crisis, indigenous rights and homelessness.   

The festival runs until Saturday 18 March at Oxford Brookes’ Headington Campus with all events free and open to everyone. A varied programme is on offer with influential screenings and Q&A sessions with the directors and producers, performances and an exhibition in the University’s Glass Tank.  

For the full programme of events and more information about the festival visit www.oxfordhumanrightsfestival.net

Ken Loach and OxHRF