Loach’s new film, The Old Oak, explores what divides and unites refugees who have come to the UK and the communities they are housed in. The film is released in cinemas from 29th September
Ken Loach, the acclaimed film director, has been interviewed exclusively by The Big Issue for a special edition of The Big Issue magazine to mark the imminent release of Loach’s latest film, The Old Oak.
The Old Oak is a story of two traumatised communities thrown together when a group of Syrian refugees are housed in a neglected former mining village in the North East of England. What emerges is a complex story that reflects one of the biggest contemporary issues of the day. However, it is a story infused with hope, as common ground is found between a community of refugees fleeing war and a local area decimated by decades of government neglect.
“It’s about the struggle of hope to emerge, isn’t it?” Loach said. “And the struggle of people to see hope. We couldn’t be in a more disastrous situation with civil society collapsing around us – health, education, homelessness, housing, student debt, poverty and hunger used as a weapon, transport collapsing.
“Every aspect of our life is collapsing, with the added danger from climate disaster. So, where you find hope in all that is the big question. But the hope has to be in people’s determination to resist and our instinct – and I think it is an instinct – for solidarity.”
The Old Oak completes a trilogy of films set in the North East, tackling the biggest issues in society, each written by regular collaborator Paul Laverty. In 2016, the pair shone a spotlight on the brutality of benefits sanctions and the desperation fuelling the rapid expansion of food banks in I, Daniel Blake.