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There’s a lying toad somewhere around here

Ken Loach has been accused of seeing himself as exempt from the cultural boycott of Israel that he promotes, after claims that he allowed his films to be distributed in the country without objection.

Loach has vocally condemned artists who perform in Israel as supporting an “apartheid regime” and his long-standing producer insisted it was down to a “mistake” that the Palme d’Or winning I, Daniel Blake is currently showing in Israeli cinemas.

The contentious issue of Loach’s films being screened in Israel emerged after the director’s searing condemnation of Radiohead’s decision to play a concert in Tel Aviv later this month. Loach accused the band of ignoring Palestinian communities and supporting a system of apartheid by refusing to commit to the cultural boycott of Israel.

Rebecca O’Brien, Loach’s producer, said the distribution company Wild Bunch, had done the deal “accidentally” and without the knowledge of Loach or his production company Sixteen Films.


Claims that the distribution rights for Israel were sold “accidentally” were however dismissed as “absurd” by Loach’s long-term Israeli distributor Guy Shani, the head of Shani Films and also the owner of Israel’s Lev cinema chain.

Shani told the Guardian he had known Loach and his producer for years, paying them money “every year”, and had never heard any objections.

“Since 1993, when we bought Raining Stones, we bought every film apart from two. We never faced any trouble buying and the audience at the Lev cinemas is very open-minded and believes in free speech. So he is he’s punishing the wrong people or trying to.

“I can’t tell you how absurd this is. We’ve been showing his movies for years. I have been paying him money every year. His latest film I, Daniel Blake has been really successful in Israel. So successful that we had some private events with Israeli government institutions where they booked the film to show to employees because of interest in the subject.”

He added: “It is a conundrum that has puzzled me too. It seems that Ken Loach feels himself exempt from the cultural boycott.”

Shani also dismissed the notion that he would distribute a film in Israel over the director and producer’s objections.

“You have to understand how this works in the film business. You don’t sell a film to someone a director doesn’t want a film sold to. It is a serious business. You have a list of regions and they approve country by country and then you need to get approval by producer and director.

I wonder who the lying toad is?

23 thoughts on “There’s a lying toad somewhere around here”

  1. I won’t hold my breath waiting for multi-millionaire benefits junkie Loach to give away (preferably back to the taxpayer, but charity would do) all the proceeds from showing his films in Israel.

  2. If only he would. Don’t the Israelis suffer enough with warring nations on their doorsteps without having to see Ken Loach films?

    I don’t even mind them being about grim council estates. They’re just so fucking terrible in terms of how cartoonishly every character is drawn. Which would be fine if it was a deliberate parody, but it isn’t. Loach states that this is based in reality.

  3. If you’d said “cheating, lying toad” we could all have played one of those anagram games.

  4. I wonder if there are any decent music venues in the West Bank and Gaza. I mean ones where you have tickets, the safety of the artists can be assured and security checks your bag contains no more than one bottle of pop.
    The locals are obviously fans of singing so you’d think there would be a demand. And plenty of artists would love to be cool and claim they were first international group to play the Hamas Hippodrome or whatever they called it.

  5. There are rumours doing the rounds that Cuddly Ken educated at least one of his children privately, in much the same manner as Billy Bragg (at BB’s wife’s insistence, allegedly)

  6. It’s also well-known that Loach did very nicely by directing tv commercials for, among other companies, McDonalds. He now claims that he feels ashamed by this, but it would be more accurate to say that what he feels is embarrassment at being found out. The man is utterly odious. And his films, with one or two exceptions, are shite.

  7. His latest film I, Daniel Blake has been really successful in Israel.

    My sympathy for Israelis has just been eroded faster than any BDS campaign could manage…

  8. ‘You don’t sell a film to someone a director doesn’t want a film sold to. It is a serious business. You have a list of regions and they approve country by country and then you need to get approval by producer and director.’

    Then it’s not a serious business.

  9. Tim Newman,

    Thing is, it’s still by standards of Loach. These films have almost no box office. He does rather well in France and the UK, but I don’t think he takes $1m for his films anywhere else. it took about $4m in the UK, which is about 1/7th of the box office of Wonder Woman. And even then, it’s because it’s released in the dire “awards season” after Xmas when there’s a shortage of anything to go and see.

  10. Loach films are basically pr0n, aren’t they. A particularly strange niche of pr0n, but pr0n all the same. And like most pr0n, you’re either into it or it’s WTF gets off on weirdo stuff like this? No doubt there’s Guardianistas sitting riveted in cinemas with incipient stiffies & moist gussets from the opening credits & in orgasmic release by the finals.
    Rocco should investigate the genre.

  11. The two things are not the same.

    Loach is helping to keep communication channels open between the West and the more liberal elements in apartheid Israel. The latter need this sort of contact in order to keep the flame of hope burning. Any money he makes enables important future works.

    Radiohead, meanwhile, will simply be playing for anyone who turns up, and for money pure and simple. Radiohead’s music is by no means overtly sexual, but still offensive in the eyes of many muslims. They should re-think this.

    What would help is a list of approved nations, perhaps at the state level for the US.

  12. The distributor is probably right about niche arthouse films like those of Loach and wrong about films in general.

    For a mainstream film the average director-for-hire would have no say at all where a film was sold.
    An A-list commercial star director like a Nolan, Eastwood or Spielberg would have some influence as the studio or other financiers of the film wouldn’t want to piss them off. To have a major name like them publicly badmouthing the studio, and by extension damaging the image of the film, would be worse than the relatively minor hit of losing a small country’s box office. They also wouldn’t want to put off other A-list directors working with them.

    In the case of arthouse star directors like Loach they are often deferred to by the film’s financiers as those backers will be either quasi-governmental or companies who would be desperate to keep their right-on image. If Loach was to badmouth someone they might be shunned by other arthouse stars and lose a few dinner invites!

    So in this instance I entirely concur with the distributor’s view about Loach although he isn’t painting an accurate picture of the vast majority of bog-standard commercial films (with which, in fairness, he may have little or no dealings.)

    Loach is being especially disingenuous as for years he has been a partner in his own production companies which would have signed contracts for each and every film with the sales companies who sold them.
    There would be nothing to stop Loach’s companies from insisting that it was contractual that his films could not be sold to Israel – or no deal.

    Of course, that might have had financial implications for Loach but it’s far easier to scream that other people should lose out for your “priciples” than take a loss yourself, isn’t it Ken?

  13. I’m sure Loachy would just love it in Gaza. He should go and live there. With Corbyn.

  14. My brother and I go sculpture a diving, him more than me. Eilat we know about, but where would people suggest to stay in Tel Aviv and Jersusalem.

  15. Flatcap Army,

    If you subtract what the distributors take (around 50%), that’s down to $26m. His last 3 films cost about $14m, so I seriously doubt he’s made any money.

    Luckily for Ken, it’s various tentacles of the state backing him, so it doesn’t matter if he loses money. If you want him to get a real job, don’t play the National Lottery. If the French want to fund him, that’s their problem.

  16. I thought Loach just basically made the same poverty porn film over and over again with reviews that always see to start with ‘well meaning’ in the same way a suicide bomber is ‘well meaning’.

  17. @Ironman,

    David Intercontinental. But get as high a floor as you can. Anything on the atrium is noisy as hell.

    Sheraton is nice too.

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