EXCLUSIVE: BBC Films and BFI also set to board as core funders on theatrical documentary.

Ken Loach

Louise Osmond, the UK director behind Sundance winner Dark Horse, is to direct Sixteen Films’ upcoming theatrical documentary exploring Ken Loach’s 50-year-old career through the battles fought around his films.

“Louise is a wonderful, observational filmmaker so she’s an ideal person to have come on board,” said Loach’s long-time producer Rebecca O’Brien at Sixteen Films.

Osmond replaces Loach’s son, Jim Loach, who was attached to the project when it was first announced last October.

“In the end, Jim decided not to do it and I can understand why - it’s too close to home,” said O’Brien.

In addition to signing Osmond, Sixteen Films has secured the backing of BBC Films and also expects the BFI (British Film Institute) to confirm its involvement at the beginning of July. 

In a smaller development, the title of the work has changed from the originally announced The Flickering Flame to Ken Loach: Untitled.

Osmond’s most recent work, Dark Horse, about a racehorse syndicate from a small Welsh village that took on the global racing elite, won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival in the world cinema documentary competition section earlier this year.

Her other credits include hit TV documentary Richard III: The King in the Car Park, which attracted 3.7 million viewers for Channel 4 when it aired in February 2013, and Deep Water about Donald Crowhurst’s doomed round-the-world yacht race, co-directed with Jerry Rothwell.

The new documentary will combine interviews with Loach and his collaborators and, where possible, detractors with footage and memorabilia from the filmmaker’s long career.

“We’re just ending the development phase and will go into production next month,” said O’Brien.

The documentary will revolve around the “battles” linked to Loach’s long filmography ranging from the campaign to combat homelessness prompted by the 1966 film Cathy Come Home, to a right-wing press backlash over the Palme d’Or win for The Wind That Shakes The Barley in 2006, to a fight with the censors over the language in Sweet Sixteen

“Louise is putting together the cast list. There are specific stories we’d like to tell but Louise is currently working that all out,” said O’Brien.

Crossmedia project

The documentary is at the heart of a wider cross-media project exploring Loach’s legacy, which includes the creation of an interactive documentary, combining the film with artefacts from Loach’s extensive archive, now in the care of the BFI.

Sixteen Films is developing the interactive documentary with Paris-based digital production house Upian, co-producer of the recent internet surveillance exposé Do Not Track as well as the award-winning Alma - A Tale of Violence, with the backing of Arte and France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC).

“The idea is that the documentary groundwork will be done over the next few months and this will feed the digital side,” said O’Brien.

Other related projects may include a book and a travelling exhibition.