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Fribourg Film Festival Ken Loach talks Brexit, Swiss wealth and a ‘new kind of poverty’

Filmmaker Ken Loach

Ken Loach appeared as a guest and gave a master class at this year's Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland


British filmmaker Ken Loach, known for his cinematic portrayal of social issues, shared how a working-class upbringing influenced his work as well as his take on poverty and Brexit during a visit to Switzerland for the Fribourg Film Festival. 

The 81-year-old director of award-winning films such as “Kes” and “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” speaks to about his worldview and how he seeks to explore the origins and consequences of wealth inequality in his work. 

“I want to portray the logic of a system that is destroying people,” he explains. journalist Eduardo Simantob starts by asking Loach what kind of face he would give to capital.

The filmmaker also discusses how he sees wealth inequality influencing life expectancy in modern Britain, where he sees “nine years’ difference” in the expected lifespan of people living just blocks apart in some cities. 

“It’s a new kind of poverty,” he says. “Family lives are destroyed through insecure work.” 

“In the big working-class cities like Glasgow, Liverpool or Manchester the life expectancy is much less because of the…chaotic lives that these new working practices inflict.” 

Loach also gives his perspective on Brexit and why he thinks one argument in particular was left out of the debate over the referendum. In the clip below, he begins by explaining what he thinks a split from the EU will mean for British filmmakers. 

Finally, when asked for his perspectives on Switzerland and whether he finds it a “boring” country, Loach replies, “how can it be boring when two-thirds of the world’s wealth is in your banks?”

He then raises the question whether Swiss people feel responsible for guarding that wealth and for “what it could do for the world”. 

“If we had all the capacity for nuclear warfare in our country, I think I’d feel some responsibility to engage politically to neutralise it,” he says. 

“You [in Switzerland] have the equivalent in wealth. Do you have any responsibility?” 

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