Entertainment & Arts

Ken Loach bemoans censors' cuts

Ken Loach
Image caption Loach is in competition for the Palme d'Or six years after winning the festival's top prize

Film director Ken Loach has criticised British film censors for asking him to remove swear words from his new film in order to qualify for a 15 certificate.

Loach said the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) asked for cuts to some language in The Angels' Share.

The British middle class is "obsessed by what they call bad language", he said at the Cannes Film Festival.

The BBFC said the film company chose to reduce the number of uses of very strong language in order to get a 15.

An 18 certificate was available for the uncut version, they said.

The Scotland-set comedy - partly shot at the Balblair Distillery near Tain in Ross-shire - tells the story of young, unemployed father to be who discovers a talent for whisky tasting.

It is in competition for the Palme d'Or, six years after Loach won the festival's top prize for The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

The director said the BBFC should pay attention to "the manipulative and deceitful language of politics" rather than "our ancient oaths and swear words".

"The British middle class is obsessed by what they call bad language," he told reporters. "But of course bad language is manipulative language.

"They're very happy with that. But the odd oath, like a word that goes back to Chaucer's time, they ask you to cut."

The film's producer Rebecca O'Brien said the film's script represented "natural" language spoken by young people.

"We have made films with heavy scenes of torture and waterboarding and fingernails being torn out - they have been 15 certificates," she said.

"If they're looking for diversity in Britain they should look no further than this film and Glasgow and see that there are different ways of speaking and see that that should be acceptable to all and sundry and should not be censored."

The film, Loach's 11th in competition at Cannes, had its first screening on Monday with English subtitles for those unfamiliar with the strong central Scotland accents used by the cast.

Loach said it would not have English subtitles for its British release.

"They were for the benefit of those for whom English is not their first language," he said, but added: "We did fight the matter quite hard because it's perfectly comprehensible."

Writer Paul Laverty admitted that he "had no problem" with the subtitles.

"I think if someone genuinely can't catch it or understand it and it helps them, then I've got no problem with that," he said

"I think it's much better than someone trying to dilute their language or find some mid-Atlantic accent to suit the US."

The central role of Robbie, who comes up with a whisky scam which will see him and his oddball gang of misfit friends either rich or in jail, is played by newcomer Paul Brannigan.

Film 'saved me'

He was discovered working part-time as a football coach in a Glasgow community centre and said the character of Robbie is not too far from his own background, raised in a tough part of the city with few prospects.

"After this I'm unemployed, that's just the way it is right now," he said. "Paul found me and came with Ken and they saved me.

"Things were tough, I had no money, it was around Christmas time. I'd say hands-up he saved my life because I had nowhere to turn, got a kid, who knows what I'd have done for money?"

The film is a broad comedy but writer Laverty insists the film reflects the huge scale of youth unemployment in the UK.

"You have to breathe in what's around you and you'd have to be blind not to notice this crisis in Scotland and around the world. I heard the figures, 75 million 15-24 year olds out of work," he said.

"That doesn't make a film but what we wanted to do was tap into that and go into the life of one young person."

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