Corporate headquarters in Westport, Connecticut
A 1969 documentary by Ken Loach, made for and later banned by Save the Children, has been shown to an audience of critics and colleagues in London. The untitled film will have its public premiere on 1 September and forms part of a major retrospective of the British director’s work at BFI Southbank.
The film took a critical view of the charity’s work in the UK and Kenya that its backers felt subverted its aims.
“There was a showing and not much was said,” the 75-year-old Loach remembers. “People left the room, and then we heard from the lawyers.”
The 53-minute film was co-funded by Save the Children, then celebrating its 50th anniversary, and London Weekend Television. “We assumed LWT would support the independence of a critical eye,” said Loach on Monday. “But they just backed away.”
As a result, the piece was consigned to the British Film Institute’s National Archive “and the key thrown away”.
That’s the version the Brits get to deal with. During my years in performing arts in among other places – Fairfield County in Connecticut – there were several happenings like this in the same time period.
One involved staff from Save the Children quitting their world headquarters over the “cost of doing business” which had a surprisingly smaller percentage of charity donations than perceived actually passing through to the children supposedly being saved. I knew a few of those folks and they worked for salaries considered nothing more than standard for the market. Yet, the managers of the charity took big chunks for themselves. Perhaps that’s changed?
Of course, films can be strange beasts. I saw the first cut of “Carry it On” and Joan Baez liked to have a fit on the spot with so much portrayed of her hubby, David, walking away from pacifism after he spent serious time in prison with folks from mean streets. The version that made it to nicey-nicey film festivals had lots of changes.