Loach goes to war with Cannes drama 'Route Irish'
Friday, 21 May 2010

British director Ken Loach has a big complaint over American films about the Iraq War. They do not identify the real victims of the conflict, he said.

"We do have to remember that the prime victims are the Iraqis. They're the ones who've suffered," Loach told reporters Friday at the Cannes Film Festival, where his Iraq War tale "Route Irish" premiered. "If I could be a little bit contentious, it does disturb me a little when we see maybe films from America that see the main victims as American soldiers. And it disturbs me even more when films like that are then dedicated to the American military.

"Because, sure, they've suffered. But just think of the millions of Iraqis that are dead, the families destroyed, children mutilated, homes smashed," Loach said.

Loach, a master of British social drama, said it was not a question of whether he and his collaborators would one day make a war-on-terror film, but what form it should take when they did.

With "Route Irish," he and longtime screenwriting partner Paul Laverty tell the story of Fergus and Frankie, Liverpool mates since childhood who are as close as brothers. Ex-military men, the two become well-paid military contractors in Iraq, where Frankie is killed in an attack along Route Irish, the code name for the road from the Baghdad airport.

Fergus, played by British TV star Mark Womack, does not buy the official explanation of his friend's death and embarks on an investigation that threatens to expose corruption at a private security company making a fortune off the war.

"This is the spirit of these days, isn't it?" said Loach, a Cannes regular who has shown more than a dozen films at the festival, winning the top prize in 2006 for his Irish drama "The Wind that Shakes the Barley." "We privatize industry. We privatize railways, we privatize transport, we privatize health care, we privatize prisons, we privatize schools. Everything they can make money out of, they grab. So the logical consequence is privatized violence.

"And of course, it's much cheaper. You don't have to sustain a standing army. You hire a contractor, he dies, end of your responsibility. A soldier dies, then there's obligations to the family, there's pensions, there's a whole infrastructure that has to be maintained. So from the point of view of private capital, 'yeah, get a mercenary. He's cheap. It doesn't matter if he dies.'"





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