British filmmaker Ken Loach has been a fixture on the festival scene, stretching back to his second feature Kes, which had its U.S. debut at the New York Film Festival in 1970, while his most recent work this decade The Angels' Share (2012), Route Irish (2010) and Looking for Eric (2009) were featured in Cannes. The Palme d'Or winner has continued to churn out his stories of British socialist realism through television, documentary and features since the mid '60s. The filmmaker is now embarked on a new drama, Jimmy's Hall, which began shooting in Ireland, but it is likely his last.
Producer Rebecca O'Brien told Screen Daily recently that the 77 year-old Loach may continue to work beyond the period-drama, which stars Barry Ward in the title role along with Simone Kirby who plays the female lead, telling the publication: “This is probably the last narrative feature for Ken. There are a few documentary ideas kicking around, and that will probably be the way to go, but this is a serious period-drama with a lot of moving parts so it’s a big thing to put together. I think we should go out while we’re on top.”
O'Brien, who has produced over a dozen features with Loach since 1990, said the filmmaker's style of directing is physically taxing and views the prospect of him slowing down as inevitable. “It’s such a huge operation and Ken doesn't sit in a director's chair, telling people what to do; he runs around. It requires a lot of physical and mental stamina,” said O'Brien who is a principal in production company Sixteen Films with Loach and writer Paul Laverty. “Realistically, I'd be very surprised if we made another feature after this one.”
Loach made his debut feature Poor Cow in 1967, but won acclaim with his follow-up, Kes, which spawned a career that includes 30 feature films, winning awards at festivals around the world including the Palme d'Or in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
Set in 1932, the film follows Irish communist leader James Gralton who returns from a decade in New York to re-open the dance hall he built in 1921, according to Screen. The film will “celebrate the spirit of the free thinkers who went to learn, argue, dream and have fun” in the dance hall.