Speakingin Berlin last week, Ken Loach (one of the three co-directors of portmanteaupicture Tickets) berated the double standards in western responses todeath and disaster. "Your country and mine have killed over 100,000 peoplein Iraq," Loach told a US journalist. "And we are encouraged to showno sympathy, to collect no money, to show no feelings or human sympathy andwarmth to those people we have killed."

Loachcalled the invasion of Iraq "a terrible, terrible crime." Hecontrasted the indifference to the suffering of the people in Iraq with thehuge generosity the west showed to all the victims in the south-east Asiantsunami disaster.

Ona less contentious note, the British director took the opportunity to paytribute to the work of the Italian neo-realists. He acknowledged his debt tosuch filmmakers as Vittotio De Sica and Roberto Rossellni.

"WhenI saw those (neo-realist) films, it indicated to me that the cinema was a placewhere you could explore the drama of the everyday," Loach commented. Whathe most admired about these films, he said, was "the respect they accordedto ordinary people...when I was going to the cinema when I was young, that wasthe opposite pole to 90% of the American films I was seeing."