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UK/European Co-Productions: The Case of Ken Loach

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JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Apr 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jun 2016
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2016
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)368–389
Early online date30/06/16
Original languageEnglish


Ken Loach stands out as one of the few British directors whose films are regularly co-produced with European partners. Of the 19 films he has directed since 1990, 14 have been UK/European co-productions. This article draws on interviews with Loach’s long-term producer Rebecca O’Brien, content analysis of his films and the statistical analysis of box office data to examine how and why Loach came to work with European co-production partners and how these partnerships have affected the cultural identity of his films and their box office performance. It argues that while some of Loach’s co-production partnerships were initiated for creative reasons, most have proceeded on a ‘finance-only’ basis, whereby the partners have had very little creative input in his films. Co-production has therefore allowed Loach to continue making ‘culturally British’ films without the creative interference which often comes with this mode of filmmaking. This creative freedom has been vital in terms of maintaining Loach’s reputation as one of Europe’s leading ‘auteurs’ and attracting the attention of film festivals like Cannes and Berlin, which in turn have played a key role in marketing his films and increasing their admissions in key European territories. Co-production has also boosted the performance and circulation of Loach’s films in mainland Europe by making it easier to access EU MEDIA distribution support. These findings not only offer new insights into Loach’s films in terms of their production, content and reception, but also contribute to wider debates surrounding co-production and transnational cinema.

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