Friday, 28 June: Special Question and Answer showing of The Spirit of 45 Film by Ken Loach hosted by Lewisham Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC)I've been a fan of Ken Loach's films since I was a teenager. Riff-Raff, Raining Stones and Land and Freedom are probably my favourites. I haven't managed to see The Spirit of 45 yet, so am sorry that I can't make it tomorrow.
The Spirit of '45 is a documentary, interviewing people who remember the mass movement to create the welfare state following World War Two. Ken Loach was asked after the film showing in Cardiff why he made the film.
"I want people to be angry," Ken Loach said. "This is not about history. It's about the fact that society doesn't have to be this way.
We can seize control of the economy, protect the environment, share out the work. You can only plan what you own - collectively for the benefit of all! Another world is possible. My god, we have to change it."
The film shows the contrast between the poverty of the 1930s and the hopes and aspirations of the working class that there should be no return to these conditions.
One contributor from Liverpool described his living conditions before the war, with all the children getting into a bed every night which was crawling with vermin. The happiest moment in his life was moving into a new council house.
Doors open 7pm
Friday, 28 June
Venue: The Hob
7 Devonshire Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3HE (nearest station Forest Hill)
Q&A after the film, followed by live music
Here's an extract from what Flesh is Grass wrote about it:
It is a series of excerpts from interviews with activists and trade unionists on different themes cut with photographs and footage of the post-war years of social democracy until Thatcher ended it. What I found convincing were the grievances of the interviewees, many of whom had watched loved ones die meaninglessly due to reckless profiteering in the mines or lack of adequate housing. Others had had brutal encounters with the police, who I thought were represented with restraint here but nevertheless as the enforcers of the rich and powerful that they have been and sometimes still are. Julian Tudor Hart, the GP who revolutionised blood pressure management (and on whose book I founded my PhD) was utterly convincing – it was great to see him. I wonder if David Widgery, the East End GP who wrote the very good memoir Some Lives would have been in it had he still been alive. I can probably tolerate John Rees if he sticks to the point – and he was well-edited here – didn’t seem at all malevolent.
Everybody in the film was white – reminding me of trade union support for the colour bar in the ’60s – and largely male. They were also practically all retired, but Loach successfully made a virtue of the fact that retired people carry the torch – they have stories to tell of how things used to be in the bad old days before the NHS. But it’s a real shame that Loach is not a reflective man because this film misses an opportunity. Others have observed with incredulity his omission to tackle the gap between the triumph of nationalisation and the rise of neo-Liberalism represented by Thatcher. That gap is precisely what the labour movement needs to get to grips with, because that is where the ground was lost. Loach prefers to point the finger at Thatcher. It is well known that Thatcher was voted in by disaffected Labour voters.Anna Chen has also recently picked up on the same theme of the invisibility of non-white stories in the film in her very sharp review. And some of their criticisms are echoed in another sharp review, by HarpyMarx. Flesh goes on to mention "Ken Loach’s own anti-Jewish proclivities", a topic which obliquely features in Rachel L's post about the film's forthcoming screening in Israel.
A couple of other things to mention. First, a purely local matter. Lewisham remains the only borough in London without a cinema. Sadly, the volunteer-run Brockley Jack Film Club is no more. There are, however, well over a dozen independent, self-managed and mostly non-profit film clubs across South East London, which all deserve your support. And a Pop-Up cinema will be coming to Lewisham in the summer.
Less parochially, but perhaps more obscurely, I am intrigued that the socialist electoral coalition TUSC are screening a film by Loach, who is so closely associated with the Counterfire-run "People's Assembly", a rival socialist coalition. Does this mean anything? (Myself, I am keeping a watching brief on both for now. Some of my blogospheric colleagues are more partisan. Read, for example: Shiraz Socialist, Coatesy, Anna Chen, The Third Estate or Ian Bone.)