A filmmaker like Ken Loach has never ceased to be a rare bird. In the beginning and maturity of him causing discomfort; at the end of his career generating misunderstanding. His cinema, aesthetically stripped of a virtuous visual framework, and ideologically located in a place far from ambiguity, has not adapted to the standards of the new cinephilia. The Palmes d’Or obtained and being a regular on the circuit of the big festivals do not matter, his cinema does not match, like many of his ideas, considered outdated, even by members of the left. It is what constantly stokes capitalism in a morally battered world, lover of symbols and devoid of humanity.

His penultimate film, Yo, Daniel Blake (2016), is the paradigm of the aforementioned. An austere proposal, with a relatively naive approach but one that describes, like no other, the state of the European left: eroded, outdated and decadent; inoperative and ineffective before the new needs of the English working class. All this personified in the protagonist of the film, a man who, close to old age, finds himself helpless before a system that has degraded him to unsuspected limits. Thus, in this way, a filmmaker like Loach is more necessary than ever in times where solidarity is only a brand.

Waiting for news of his new job, and coinciding with the celebration of his 84th birthday, we choose the best films from the director from Nuneaton.

Kess (1969)

Second fiction feature film – he had previously billed TV-Movies – by Ken Loach and the first major milestone in his filmography. Already in Poor Cow (1967) he pointed to that close and humanist look that embraced the inhabitants of the suburbs that made Free Cinema the most important cinematographic movement in the United Kingdom in the second part of the 20th century. Kes recounts the relationship between a young misfit named Billy Casper and a hawk in Yorkshire. An endearing story that collected numerous awards after its premiere ; the most important: the Karlovy Vary Crystal Globe.

Glances and Smiles (1981)

Apparently minor work within a curriculum full of works of critical impact but enormously lucid, especially when it comes to drawing this romantic tale between two drifting souls conditioned by the context. A film that was presented in the official section of the Cannes Film Festival – like the vast majority of films signed by the veteran director. Graham Green and Carolyn Nicholson star in this drama about the relationship between a young man who aspires to become a soldier and a shop assistant.

Happy Sixteen (2002)

One of his most celebrated films, the summit of Free Cinema . Best Screenplay Award at Cannes, Sweet Sixteen is a documentary approach to a teenager who longs for a family he never had. With the reason for the release of his mother, he prepares a plan full of bad ideas to try to recover the home that he was deprived of as a child. He achieved the Golden Spike of the Valladolid Seminci.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

First of the two Palmes d’Or that appear in his list of winners. Also his deepest and most complex film. A very young Cillian Murphy heads the cast of this film that narrates the beginnings of the IRA and its fight against the British government through the eyes of a couple of nationalist brothers who want, like many others, the independence of Ireland. The cameraman Barry Aykroyd is responsible for the excellent cinematography of this work for which time does not pass.

The Spirit of ’45 (2013)

Although his latest features are excellent –like the aforementioned Yo, Daniel Blake- , ultimately we were left with a documentary. The spirit of 45 offers an unprecedented perspective on the collapsing situation of the lower classes in the United Kingdom after the end of World War II. A beautiful and, at the same time, crude anthropological work that describes the rise of the new socialism in the postwar period and how it was reviled and eradicated by Margaret Thatcher in 1979. A creation that also exercises (self) homage to the ideas that the filmmaker has expanded on his fictions over four decades.