Ken Loach calls David Cameron’s plans for the British film industry “a travesty”

The director says plans to channel National Lottery money into "mainstream" films fail to address important issues

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Film director Ken Loach has criticised Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to direct National Lottery funds into “commercially successful… mainstream” British movies, saying it is impossible to predict which films will be hits.

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“This is a travesty,” he told BBC1’s Breakfast. “If everybody knew what would be successful before it was made, there would be no problem.

“What you have to do is fund a lot of different, varied projects and then some will be successful, some will be original, some will be creative, and you will get a very vibrant industry.”

Loach also argued that Cameron’s review of Britain’s film industry failed to address other significant issues – “one is the monopoly of the multiplexes where you get a very narrow range of films,” he said.

“We do not have, as in other countries in Europe, a wide spread of independent cinemas. Now, unless you can really see a wide variety of films you don’t have a vibrant film industry and we get a very narrow menu.”

Loach won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes the Barley, and has two movies in the BFI’s list of the top 100 British films of the 20th century.

He was responding to comments from David Cameron made on a visit today to Pinewood Studios. The Prime Minister paid tribute to the British film industry, saying it had made a £4 billion annual contribution to the economy and an “incalculable contribution to our culture”, but said he wanted it to become “even more dynamic and entrepreneurial [and] commercially successful” to rival international industries.

Meanwhile, film critic Mark Kermode echoed some of Loach’s comments via Twitter.

“If you don’t have a thriving independent cinema circuit to show adventurous British films, then you have no ‘British film industry’,” tweeted Kermode.

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“As always, distribution and exhibition are the key,” he told followers. “Patronise your local indie cinema. And hug a projectionist…”