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Loach in Los Angeles

Loach continues to subvert expectations

KEN LOACH is returning to Scotland, but he’s loath to say why. Instead, he tells The List about his new film, Bread And Roses. Words: Heather Walmsley

Ken Loach is working on a new film with Paul Laverty. writer of My Name Is .Im' . . . but he believes it's bad luck to discuss the subject so early. liventually. he divulges the location - ‘somewhere on

the West Coast'. However. renowned as Loach is for

subverting expectations. I can‘t help feeling that this may not be much of a clue.

The Warwickshire lad did. after all. jet off to Los Angeles. and come back from Hollywoodland with a film about Hispanic janitors. Bread Am] Roses follows the struggle of exploited immigrant office cleaners as they wage war on their corporate employers. ‘I liked the idea of going to LA and doing a film about Mexicans; there is something subversive about it.‘ Loach admits. ‘lt's about Los Angeles. but not the swimming pools. fast cars. or police chases.‘

Loach is an expert at spotting the personal drama within the socially overlooked. This time the director has turned his critical. socialist lens upon the movie capital itself. ‘b’rt'm/ xlm/ Roses is about the people who keep the city running and are larger invisible. They are reviled. so they are vulnerable. so they are cheap. They are used and abused at the same time.‘

The streets of LA presented their own peculiar barriers to Loach‘s eccentric working methods. He remembers being forced to stop filming in the street. despite having permission. “The people are so deferential. just to somebody in a suit with two big heavies. I mean I would have just given him two lingers and told him to get stuffed!‘

Even the hired proved problematic at times. ‘Ruben riding his motorbike with Maya on the passenger seat: it's the easiest thing in the world to shoot.‘ recalls Loach. 'But the production manager wanted a stunt driver to do it. with cars all around

28 THE LIST 26 Apr—10 May 2001

‘The people are so deferential to somebody in a suit with two big heavies. I would have given him two fingers and told him to get stuffed!’

him for protection!‘ fixasperated. the rebellious Brit broke the rules quietly. For a start his cast list isn't exactly screaming Hollywood. Many of those playing the janitors were cleaning offices for years before Loach arrived. and still are today. Like them the female stars Pilar Padilla and Elpidia (‘arrillo are Mexican. Carrillo caused consternation at (‘annes last year. by pointing out the impossibility of Hispanic actresses playing anything other than maids and prostitutes.

Maybe Loach shook up the class structure in Hollywood then. if just for a few weeks'.’ After all. Loach still pursuing his agenda of the 90s: portraying Margaret Thatcher's miserable legacy. ‘()h yes. it‘s a never ending source of stories.‘ he agrees. ‘The decisions that politicians and corporations make. they have implications for what people can achieve in their own lives. what their possibilities are compared to what their potential is.’ And New Labour are not exempt‘.’ ‘They basically believe that private capital is progressive. They are major privatisers. They carry on where Thatcher and Major left off.‘

There is a notable shift in Loach‘s recent work. adding to the angry protest of Riff-Raff and Ruining Stones. the human dimension of Car/u '3‘ Song and the triumphant My Name [5 Joe. He is probing deeper into intimate relationships. 'Whether it's a man and woman. a parent and child. or brothers and sisters. we try and pick away at those relationships] he says.

The people on Scotland's West Coast. they must be the key to this new movie. then'.’ ‘Yes. the people are sparky.’ he says. 'There is a very strong sense of identity. Like the Mexican janitors. they're strong. know who they are. and are very funny. It‘s a very rich culture. All the elements of drama and conflict are there. Scotland.‘ says Loach. in a maddenineg enigmatic manner. ‘it's a strong brew.’

Bread And Roses opens at GFT, Glasgow; Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 27 Apr. Loach is patron of the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics Weeks, 9-18 May. See review, page 30


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Scottisn err‘tnaners sriecai feat.i'e. Carrie-n. Fainburu'i art.) GfT Glasgow present exclusive screenings at a taxation or snort firms and ariirnatrons The sereeriings take place on Monday Sit April iCameo. .tnit TLtOStttty l Mm, (if T See l ‘Illl listings for tunes

The Cameo is also holding its annual Jim Poole Short film Award ceremony on Sunday ’29 April. which celebrates the work of Scottish filmmakers. so you can expect more films from [he List special feature in that programme,

SCOTTISH FILMMAKERS TAKE note: Kinofilm, Manchester’s International Short Film Festival running 20-28 October, is now inviting submissions for its regular Scottish Programme. The deadline is 16 June; for info call 0161 288 2494 or email: kino@good.co.uk ROUGH CUTS HAS noticed that Glasgow and lidinburrjh's Cinemas are now being given a run for their box office money by Dundee Contemporaw Arts and The Belmont. Aberdeen. the two new lone really. the other relativelyl art house venues have beaten Scotland's largest cities to the post. screening a number Of films first: Orr/fight. 7he fao Of Steve and Salt Water; Good to see the London-based film distributors realise there's more to Scotland than Glasgow and Edinburgh.

THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL DU FILM, Cannes to you and me, has announced its official line- up. lt’s pretty much what was reported, unofficially, last issue, with these additional clarifications: La Pianiste, Austrian director Michael Haneke’s second French- language film (following the excellent, soon-to-be- released Code Inconnu); La Repetition, the sole woman director (shame on Cannes) this year, Catherine Corsini; DreamWorks’ CGI animation Shrek; and the Coen brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There (previously The Barber Project).

Jim Poole Award nominee Rice Paper Stars