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Ken Loach: Sweet Sixteen by Gemma Starkey
Introduction Origin of an idea Casting Directing & Shooting Cinematography Editing
Audience & reception The Politics of Film        
The Politics of Film
"Few directors have been as consistent in their themes and their filmic style, or as principled in their politics, as Loach has in a career spanning five decades"
  - Lez Cooke, Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors

Ken Loach is often discussed in the context of the 'politics' of his films. But while, as he explains in this video, his view of the world is reflected in the films that he makes, his politics inform rather than determine the stories and the style in which they are told. For, as screenwriter Paul Laverty points out, "a good issue doesn't make for a good film".

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This video also looks at the controversial BBFC decision to give Sweet Sixteen an 18 rating on the grounds that it contained over 300 instances of 'aggressive' swearing. It was the first Ken Loach film to receive this rating, and those who worked on the film strongly disagreed with the decision. Paul Laverty wrote an open letter to the BBFC, imploring them to reconsider:

"I am not blind to the predicament and the difficulty you now confront. But I do ask you to be bold and imaginative in the exercise of your discretion. There are tens of thousands of fifteen and sixteen and seventeen year old Liams out there. (And Chantelles with young children and self destructive desperate Pinballs.) For me they are more important than any critic or jury, but as usual, without clout. I hope you will give them a chance to see themselves, for once, as protagonists."

The BFI would like to thank Barry Ackroyd, Martin Compston, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Jonathan Morris, Rebecca O'Brien and John Hill for their generous contributions to these films. We are also grateful to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, whose kind support made this tour possible.