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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 11, 2019 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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using live ammunition. it happened during the morning rush—hour at an intersection in the city. there've been clashes as pro—democracy activists try to disrupt transport by setting up barricades. police said they had attempted to disperse protestors due to "extensive illegal acts." australian authorities declare a state of emergency in both new south wales and queensland. it comes after warnings that bushfires in the country could also pose a ‘catastrophic‘ threat to sydney. strong winds, high temperatures and low humidity is predicted in the coming days, meaning the crisis is far from over. the president of bolivia, evo morales, has resigned after nearly 1a years in power. the head of the army had called on him to go following last month's disputed election victory which sparked widespread protests. now on bbc news it's hardtalk
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with stpehen sackur. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. for many filmmakers and filmgoers movies are about escapism and entertainment. look at the listings in your local cinema and you'll see what i mean. but not so for my guest today. one of the most lauded and durable directors in the uk film industry — ken loach. he has made 27 films, he has won the biggest prize at cannes twice, and yet his films are the very opposite of escapism. his latest is an unrelenting, bleak take on the exploitation of workers in the so—called gig economy. if entertainment isn't his mission, what is?
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ken loach, welcome to hardtalk. thanks very much. a pleasure to be here. around five years ago, i seem to recall, there was some talk of you maybe not making movies for very much longer if at all. yet here you sit having just made another movie, sorry we missed you, before that you made i, daniel blake, which won a huge prize at cannes. so can we take it that your passion for filmmaking burns as bright as ever? well, it does, because it's a huge privilege to do that. and there are so many stories to tell. did you come close to quitting? well, at the time, it was a slightly misjudged remark. i mean, i was up to my knees
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and an irish bog, my feet were wet, and i thought i can't go on doing this much longer. but, you know, you come out, you get dry, the people around you are terrific fun and creative and a joy to be with and you think, well, why not, you know, keep pressing on. but since then that one remark has rather dogged me. but try to distil for me what gets you out of bed and onto the set every morning now. fundamentally is it about a love for the art, for the craft of filmmaking, or is it because of the political passions that drive you? both, both. and we do our best not to make bleakfilms. so i disagree with you... you heard my introduction. i heard, yes. and i think that was a little unfair. because bleak is not... because anything that tries to explore our relationships, how we live together, the mothers, fathers, partners, kids is not bleak, because relationships are full of warmth and contradiction and affection and disagreements
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and struggles. and that's the essence of humanity. and that's not bleak. well, i take your point. but let's just focus then on the movie that you're just releasing — sorry we missed you. because ijust happen to be lucky enough to see it in a prerelease screening. and i'll tell, honestly, that it's a film where i came out of the cinema feeling heavier than when i went in. you know, it brought a dark, sad, depressed mood upon me because of what i'd seen. and is that not something that you sort of want, ina way? um, well, not exactly that. but, stephen, this is a story of the lives lived by hundreds of thousands of people in our country.
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there will be couriers in the bbc now delivering or collecting who are working under those conditions. and if they are youngsters and full of energy it'll probably work for them. if they're family men orfamily men and women, with obligations, with kids to bring up, then they know the stress of bogus self—employment or zero hours bring. all right, well, let us then, for those who haven't seen the movie, which is the great mass of the population, it will be released soon. let's just be clear that about this story because it focuses on one family, one particular man, ricky turner, his wife abby, and their two kids. now, ricky was in the construction trade, he lostjobs, he couldn't get work. he decided, despite building up heavy debt, to buy a van and become a parcel delivery man working for a big company which basically employs these people, nominally self—employed, but driving them with ruthless efficiency in terms of their service contract.
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it's called the gig economy. did you set out to try to tell the world that this gig economy is exploitative and wrong? well, it's certainly exploitative and it's a product of the free market system. you know, constant drive to lower labour costs. so if you can avoid paying holiday pay, you can avoid paying sick pay, you put all the responsibility of things go wrong on driver and you call them self—employed delivering a service, rather than employee, you can cut labour costs. so it's a product of the so—called free market. and his wife abby is a care worker going and looking after the most vulnerable people, the old people in our society, gets them out of bed, gives them their medicines, washes them, you know, in an impossibly short space of time. zero hours contract, no travel time paid. so both are exploited, both exploited in insecurejob.
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but both wanted those jobs. and surely the point is... crosstalk. well, want, um.. they wanted a secure... they need to earn money. whether they want those jobs under those conditions, knowing what they know about them is something else. they wanted a secure job, like you do, like most of us. yeah, but this is about, i suppose, your style and the way you make movies and knit your stories together. would it be fair to call you a polemicist in the sense that there is one overarching message which drives the movie? no, no. if it's a polemic then it's a thinnerfilm. i mean, it's about sons and fathers. it's about, um, brothers and sisters. where one brother goes off the rails and this puts this young sister in a situation where she has to be the peacemaker. it's about exhaustion... all that is true and it's beautifully done, but... crosstalk.
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so it's not about the polemic then. well, except that the reason, you know, in the terms of the film, the reasons why this family is under so much stress, always in the end, comes back to the exploitative working conditions, the fact that the parents cannot be at home, they have to work until 9:00, 10:00, 11:00pm at night, that the kids essentially are having to look after themselves so much of the time. there is a framework to it, which — you don't like the word bleak — and i — let's use a different word, but it's depressing, it's grim for these people. well, it's your world it's the world you live in. it's the world that passes you by every time you come into the bbc. as i say, it's our world. we're in the middle of it. and everybody lives of their lives in social context. and i think if i were to make a general criticism of cinema, particularly of all the — whether it's compared to writing or theatre or poetry or music or whatever — cinema often shows characters
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with no visible means of support. and yet work and family are the two areas where we live our lives. and the experiences of work absolutely affect your life. and i'm sure, we've never met before, but as a generalisation, i'm sure your work has affected your family life and the history of your family connections. no doubt about that. and so therefore the connection between work and family is absolutely central to how we live. sure. i suppose my point, and i used that word polemic before, but this is not a film, and maybe critics say this about many of your films, it's not a film of the greys, of the complexities, it is a film largely of black and white. for example, we don't see one self—employed gig economy worker in the film who is positive about the way they're working. but you said to me during the beginning of this conversation,
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you know, there are young people for whom this works pretty well and they like it. and the surveys show there are a significant number of people on even zero hours contracts who are with that style of working. but they don't appear. but this is the story of one family. i mean, paul laverty who wrote the script, he's a wonderful writer and i'm hugely fortunate to be able to work alongside him. you've worked with him a lot over many films. a quarter of a century. he's a fantastic writer and he did the majority of the research. and you speak, i mean, he would travel to drivers. i mean, he saw them, he bought a sandwich when he went round with one driver. it was still there at the end of a 12—hour shift. you mean he hadn't had time to eat it? he hadn't had time to eat it. i mean the — he had a bottle in the back of the van because the controlling scanner in his van didn't give him time to go to the lavatory so he had to urinate into a bottle. now, i mean, this is the reality of hundreds of thousands of people's lives and i think to say, oh, well,
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you should have had this character in and you should have had that character in — that's trivial, to be honest. i mean, let'sjust hear these people's stories, you know. it's not like a bbc panorama programme where you'd expect to hear both sides of the argument. unlike the one that was a vicious attack onjeremy corbyn. this isn't a panorama programme. this is a story of a family. and it is interesting that so many of your films focus on families and individuals who are, you know, one way or the other at the bottom or close to the bottom of the pile. well, they're the working class. and that's the phrase that comes up again and again in the decades of your work, that you feel you're making films about the working class. has your notion of what the working class is changed over 50 years of filmmaking ?
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um, well, the central defining characteristic of those who sell their labour without a stake in the profits. i mean, that is as far as a simple definition. are they, put it this way, do you feel they're oppressed in the same ways today that they were when you set out? when you made kes, for example, a film we all know. no, i mean, there are many differences between now and the 1960s when we made kes. i think the word oppression needs definition. because the point of our economy is that people invest in order to extract surplus value from the people who give the labour in order to turn it into profit. i mean, that's how the system works, isn't it? it's about profit from investment, right. yes? yeah. yeah, it is. if it's not profitable it doesn't get investment. so that's what it's about. so, i mean, what you're doing is a critique of capitalism? you don't need to be grudging. it's the basic fact of the system. that's the motor. as somebody said — greed is good. and that's how it works.
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some people would say that's exploitation. now you can call that oppression or you can call it exploitation, or you can call it a necessary profit motive to make industry work. but it is, nevertheless, the worker doesn't get the value of his labour. that's the essence of the system. now, that's changed obviously and the working class has changed in many ways... and that's what i'm interested in — the change. because, again, in the films you make, but let's focus on the most recent one, sorry we missed you, the workers in it are pretty homogeneous. it's set in the northeast, newcastle, the workers that we learn about, not just the family, but the people around them, are all local people. there are no immigrants really featured in the film at all, which these days in the uk economy, amongst working—class people, is unusual, and ijust wonder if you accept that the homogeneity of the working class is not what it was, it's changed? sure.
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i wouldn't dispute the fact that we've had immigrant workers and immigrant families that have been here many, many years and would no longer see themselves as immigrants. and if you look you will see there are black workers in the film as well as white workers... and questions of identity are really important now. not just class. and maybe the brexit debate that the united kingdom has been tying itself in knots over for the last three years is a reflection of that. you are raising all kinds of different questions now. i mean, let's just stick with one. i'm happy to deal with them, but it's like throwing sand in your face when you say that. because brexit is a whole other issue, an argument between two sections of the right, changes from the 60s to now, misses out the thatcher period when the critical dangers occurred. your own background is fascinating because you were raised by what you've described as a tory working—class dad who wanted to better himself and wanted you to better yourself.
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i'm not sure i'd use that word. i think he just wanted, he just wanted a secure life, really, for himself and for me. but, interestingly, thanks to your gifts, academic and other, you went to grammar school, you went to oxford, you trained in the law. i mean, you, actually, were a great example of upward social mobility. and so when we talk about the working class and your thoughts on it over a 50—year span, it seems to me you are looking at the working class from roots which were quite working—class, but where you've actually moved somewhere very different. and ijust wonder how much you feel you know about today's working class. well, again, you use phrases i have to challenge. "upward social mobility," that was the problem with grammar schools, because i was in a medium—sized industrial town
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in the midlands. there was virtually no middle class. and there was a selection system at age 11, where 60 boys... i'm a grammar school boy, too. 0k — 60 boys come out of a population of 70,000 people. 60 boys only, at age 11, were told you may go to university. the rest were told, you're finished at 16. now, that's a price. the point of the developing society is that everyone moves up. iget it... my question was... crosstalk. you were separated off at 11, and then you went to oxford university... i9, i went to national service, plunged into a barracks of 22 lads from all over the country and i learned more... fair point, you did military service, but you then went to oxford... and i learned a hell of a lot there, as much as i did in the dreaming spires. butjust if you would address my point, how easy is it,
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to be sure that you have the authentic pulse of today's working people when by definition, you are a successful, middle—class person? are you a journalist? iam. so how do you stay in touch? i stay in touch by reporting, by visiting, by trying to see what is happening around me. exactly, you're a good journalist. i do the same. but your role is somewhat different. you tell fictional stories. you're trying to make points. you burn with passion, as we have discussed from the very beginning of this interview. you are challenging my — and the people i work with — ability to connect and listen to people. i am saying to you, that is a talent that i should share withjournalists, and the key to staying in touch is listening, is recognising our common humanity, is understanding the choices they have.
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it's just being with people, and if you can't empathise and understand, then you can't work. how do writers write? how does anyone engage with the world around them? you have to listen, you have to understand. you have to be in their position. you have to have known enough of the world to recognise that you're not an anthropologist. you are someone who stands in solidarity. and i think obviously, if you can do that, you can do it. if you can't do it, you can't. and do you think the way you have chosen to make movies, a very specific way, a lot of people say "i can tell within two minutes whether i'm watching a ken loach film or not," is that a very important part of... i don't know if the word is authenticity, but the genuineness of what you do? because you very rarely use big—name actors. you often use actors who have hardly acted on screen at all before. and interestingly,
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in this latest film, the amazing lead part is played by a guy who, for years, was a plumber working in the service economy. and he's your lead actor. how important is that element in what you do? well, you just try to be authentic, really. and find people who the audience will care about. the actors in the film have got to be able to make a fictional situation believable and credible. they have got to bring it to life. now, that's acting. by anybody‘s definition, that's acting. and they are bloody good actors, right? so i don't patronise them, calling them non—actors or any of that. but finding authenticity is important, because you want to be able to communicate to the audience, hey, these people could really be doing thisjob. they know how to do it. there's a truth in what they're doing, because the work,
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the actual physical work, is part of the story. so you don't have to do it with back projection and all the tricks of the film business to pretend they are driving, or pretend they are a character or something, they are actually doing it. that connection to the work is part of what the film is about. your relationship with the wider movie industry fascinates me, because you're the sort of antithesis of everything that many people think of in the movie business. and it strikes me that when you have on your big awards at cannes, you go off there onto the red carpet, you hobnob with the a—listers and the celebs and the the studio moguls... i don't hobnob with anyone! where did you get that idea? ok, i'm exaggerating. you are exaggerating. my question is based on the sort of disconnect, in a way. you adore your industry, you adore making films, but it seems you have nothing in common with so much of what your industry is about. that's fairly true, yes.
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the interesting thing... the interesting thing is the screenings, the people who know the stories of the films, their own lives. and you have terrific conversations and share the enjoyment, if there is an enjoyment to the film, or share what has come up on screen, and they tell their stories, and that's brilliant. i mean, that's the reward, really, of doing it. and not parties and putting on a black tie. but presumably bums on seats is also a reward. you care about drawing an audience for your films. absolutely, and the films have always been financially viable and successful, otherwise, you know, if we did two films that lost money on the trot, we'd be out. it interests me that right now, some of the greatest filmmakers of the sort of hollywood scene of the last 50 years, martin scorsese, stephen spielberg, they're all slagging off the franchise movies, the superhero movies, saying that they're extremely —
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sort of corrosive to the movie business. but in the end, they're the films that win huge audiences right around the world. do you have a problem with those purely entertainment, escapist—driven movies? well, i think on the list of priorities to be concerned about, that comes down fairly low. because there are such big issues that people face. but if you care about the cinema, you want the cinema to... well, an analogy i have tried to use before, the cinema should be like a library. you should have all the diversity of a library in it. because films and images and sound arejust a medium, and you can do anything. you can tell documentaries, you can capture reality, you could tell fictional stories. all kinds, all kinds. so the problem with cinema
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is it is the equivalent of a small shelf of airport novels. and compared to what it could be, and also, the films that are made across the world but we never see, the problem within the cinema, it is notjust the superhero films, i mean, i don't know, i never see them. but it's the use of the medium, and enabling people to enjoy the rich diversity of which it's capable, and the rich diversity of films that are already being made. and we never see them. and you're a part of what diversity there is, and you have been for 50 years. does it matter to you that your films, in some way or other, have made a difference? because they're clearly movies with messages. and do you care about the degree to which those messages have moved people and changed people? yes, "message" sounds like something you can reduce to a couple of sentences. you can't. i hope you can't.
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i know, certainly the complexity of paul's writing, you can't reduce to two sentences. so it matters that, yes, people are touched. it matters that they are engaged emotionally and also intellectually, or in their ideas. because otherwise we failed. so if they are engaged, and then, what happens when they leave the cinema, it's up to them. if they feel, hey, i can do something about this, and i need to be in my union, i need to get involved in this community, i need to support this action, or i can be involved in, you know, in the extreme, in a political party, that's great. but first of all, it's just reaching out and saying, hey, this is happening, what do you think? and i don't get the impression from our conversation that you have any intention of declaring another retirement from filmmaking? chuckles. well, it's like football.
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when you get old, you've got to take each game as it comes, really. ken loach, we'll have you back after the next movie. thank you so much for being on hardtalk. thank you. don't be fooled by sunday's sunshine. there's more rain on the way this week, and to areas that really don't want any more. this is how thejet stream's looking this week. it's taking aim at the uk. it's on a more southerly track than it might be at this time of year, nestled within these dips, we find areas of low pressure bringing wet weather, and the uk is staying
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on the northern side of the jet stream, and that means in the cold air. a chilly week to come. so this is what we can expect this week from this weather pattern. i'm afraid low pressure will be around with further rain at times, cold enough for some hill snow. it will often be windy, low pressure, temperatures below average and frost occasionally overnight. and this is how we're starting the day. a wintry start to the day across northern parts of scotland. we've seen wet weather throughout the night, the bulk of that clearing away. it has delivered some snow to relatively modest hills north of the central belt in scotland, so could be quite tricky over some of the higher roads first thing. the bulk of the wet weather just clearing away from eastern parts of england. could be some gusty winds with that, as it clears. then following on behind, yes, brighter skies, sunny spells around, but there are these showers, most frequent towards the north—west of the uk. heavy, thundery, wintry on hills, could see some hail as well. pushed in on brisk north—westerly winds, some will travel all the way east and south across the uk, but relatively few across southern and eastern parts. so in the afternoon, more on the way of dry and sunny
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weather to be found here. temperatures for the most part in single figures, feeling colder than it did on sunday, because there's a stronger wind. 0vernight and into tuesday, see the showers still keep on coming in here, some clearer spells to the south and east. all down to this area of low pressure still close by on tuesday. it's likely to push a longer spell of wet weather south across the uk, and from monday into tuesday, we will see the rain totals mounting into the peak district, some snow to the high hills here, but that could influence the flooding. so we will keep an eye on that. there is the spell of wet weather moving south on tuesday, what is clearly another cold day. a bit of a lull to start wednesday, with frost and freezing fog patches, but another area of low pressure comes in, some wetter weather for northern ireland, wales, south—west england on wednesday, then thursday, this band of rain sitting through parts of england and wales, and it could well be raining in some of the areas seeing the worst of the flooding at the moment. flood and weather warnings in force,
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details on our website. if you're concerned about more rain where you are, you do really need to keep across the forecast as we go through this week.
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this is the briefing. i'm sally bundock. our top stories: police in hong kong use live ammunition during clashes with protesters. a demonstrator has been shot at point blank range. a state of emergency is declared in new south wales and queensland, with warnings that bushfires in australia could pose a catastrophic threat to sydney. spain's second general election this year fails to break the political deadlock, with the socialists topping the poll without an outright majority. british steel is set to announce a 90 million dollar rescue from a chinese company that could save up to four thousand jobs


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