Description from TIFF 2010 catalog by Thom Powers:
For filmgoers who crave political engagement, the partnership of director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty is a rich source. Their latest work, Route Irish, which is playing separately in the Masters programme (see page 101), grapples with the Iraq war and the trend of using privatized soldiers who are more costly to taxpayers and less accountable to law than enlisted ranks. In this Mavericks session &”8211; moderated by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore &”8211; Loach and Laverty will have an onstage dialogue delving deeper into the film’s subject matter, and reflecting on other political currents that run through their work.
At age seventy-four, Loach has long used filmmaking to study how the working class relates to the ruling class. Cathy Come Home &”8211; his feature drama made for the BBC in 1966 &”8211; signaled a trenchant point of view in its depiction of a woman falling through the cracks of Britain’s social services. Even when politics aren’t explicit &”8211; in films such as Riff-Raff, Raining Stones and Ladybird Ladybird &”8211; he expresses a distinct sensitivity to how society distributes wealth and opportunity.
In the mid-nineties, Loach joined forces with the Scottish writer Paul Laverty, nearly twenty years his junior, who had previously worked in Nicaragua for a human rights organization. Their first collaboration, Carla’s Song, dealt with the US-backed war against the Sandinistas. They have since worked together on eleven films, including Bread & Roses, about the struggle for Los Angeles janitors to unionize, and The Wind that Shakes the Barley, about Ireland’s struggle for independence, which won the Palme d’Or At the Cannes Film Festival.
In shaping the characters for Route Irish, Laverty conducted extensive interviews with contractors who served in Iraq. Although the film employs fictional scenarios, the roots of the story lie in the real systems of privatized armies that have been reported by journalists such as Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. In this Mavericks conversation, Loach and Laverty will discuss the process of injecting their political passions into filmmaking.
About the panelists:
Ken Loach was born in Nuneaton, England and studied law at Oxford University. He made his first feature film, Poor Cow, in 1967. In 1994 he was awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the Venice International Film Festival. In 2004 his body of work was awarded the special prize of the 20th Anniversary of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. He also won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for The Wind that Shakes the Barley (06). His other films include Kes (69), Black Jack (79), Hidden Agenda (90), Riff-Raff (91), Raining Stones (93), Ladybird Ladybird (94), Land and Freedom (95), My Name Is Joe (98), Bread and Roses (00), Sweet Sixteen (02), the omnibus film Chacun son cinema (segment, 07), It’s a Free World (07) and Route Irish (10).
Paul Laverty was born in Calcutta, India. He earned a degree in philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome. After practicing as a lawyer he worked for a human rights organization in Nicaragua, and won a Fullbright Award to study film in the US. His screenwriting credits include Carla’s Song (96), My Name Is Joe (98), Bread and Roses (00), The Wind that Shakes the Barley (06) and Route Irish (10).