Week 1: Terence Davies, Of Time and the City (74 m.) 2008
Commissioned by the City of Liverpool to celebrate its selection as European City of Culture, Davies’ documentary is a powerful blend of archival footage, film excerpts and sequences shot by Davies himself. Poetry, music (from the Beatles and Peggy Lee to Lizst and Mahler) and art combine to evoke the social history of the city.
Week 2: Terence Davies, Distant Voices, Still Lives (85m.) 1988
Described by The Guardian as "Britain's forgotten cinematic masterpiece", Davies’ drama was ranked third in a 2011 Time Out poll of the 100 Greatest British films. The film was made in two parts, filmed two years apart by the same cast, and depicts a working class Catholic family evolving from a pessimistic to a more optimistic outlook. Popular culture is at the heart of the film and embraces popular music, Hollywood cinema, light entertainment and the local pub.
Week 3: Mike Leigh, High Hopes (112 m.) 1988
One of Leigh’s most successful analyses of the British working class, High Hopes portrays the life of an extended working-class family living in different parts of London. Playing on familiar Leigh themes, this is a comedy evoking the culture clashes between different classes and belief systems.
Week 4: Mike Leigh, Vera Drake (125m.) 2004
Leigh tells the story of Vera Drake, a married woman living in 1950s London. Her main function in life is to help women seeking an abortion, which at that time was an illegal procedure. On release, the film met great critical acclaim and won many awards and nominations. Leigh evokes the hard life of a British working-class woman and the environment in which she lives and works, and combines this with a moral perspective on abortion.
Week 5: Ken Loach, Kes (111m.) 1969
One of social realism’s most successful films, Kes made an immediate impact on its release in the UK. Set in Barnsley (South Yorkshire), the film depicts life in a small mining village where the miners were allegedly the lowest paid workers in a developed country.
Week 6: Ken Loach, I, Daniel Blake (100m.) 2016
An emotionally charged analysis of the vagaries of the UK’s welfare system, the film presents the life of Daniel Blake who, made redundant through illness, struggles to claim benefits. He befriends a young woman who is in a similar position. Such is the social and political relevance of the film that it was mentioned in debate in the Houses of Parliament.