Loach stays true to personal vision

Helmer honored by Euro Film Academy

When Ken Loach steps on stage Dec. 12 to receive the European Film Awards’ lifetime achievement laurel, he will become the first English filmmaker to be so honored at the EFAs.

Likened to Victorian author Charles Dickens for his deft treatment of social issues and hailed for daring to tackle ideologically complex issues including the Spanish Civil War (“Land and Freedom”) and the birth of terrorist group the Irish Republican Army (“The Wind That Shakes the Barley”), Loach has earned a devoted following on the continent.

“For me, Ken Loach is the most European of English filmmakers,” says Gallic director Robert Guediguian. “His films do not channel Hollywood like so many of those of his compatriots, and he has never wavered in his point of view, which has always been on the side of the poor and the dispossessed.”

Loach has always been a thorn in the side of the establishment.

With BBC social docudramas “Up the Junction” (1965) and “Cathy Come Home” (1966), he became one of the first British directors to show the harmful effects of government policy on working-class citizens.

He has had a significant impact on British filmmakers.

Alan Parker credits “Cathy Come Home” with inspiring him to become a director while Stephen Frears describes BBC miniseries “Days of Hope” (1975), about the start of the British labor movement, as more important than any film.

At 73, Loach shows no sign of slowing down. In his next film, “Route Irish,” he tackles the Iraq war in a love story concerning private security contractors.