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Loach’s Fond Kiss wins screen prize

Category: Dear Frankie News
Article Date: June 26, 2005 | Publication: London Times Online | Author: Mike Wade
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KEN LOACH has won the biggest prize at this year’s Bowmore Scottish Screen awards for his film Ae Fond Kiss.

The story focuses on a young Glasgow Pakistani, played by Atta Yaqub, who is torn between his love for a Catholic teacher and his unwillingness to hurt his traditionalist parents.

Loach’s reputation for grim realism might have made for a dour film and he was recently described by Stuart Cosgrove, head of nations and regions at Channel 4, as “our visiting professor of doom”. But the romantic comedy of Ae Fond Kiss — which takes its name from a song by Robert Burns — captured a huge amount of support from Sunday Times readers, who vote for the winners of the prestigious awards every year.

The film has been described as an “East Is East-style version of Romeo and Juliet relocated to the southside of Glasgow”. Its female lead, Eva Birthistle, said that it was “a very gentle love story”.

Others, however, have criticised the film as little more than propaganda against Catholic schools.

It was written by Paul Laverty, who worked previously with Loach on Sweet Sixteen and My Name is Joe, both of which took a grim view of working-class life in the west of Scotland.

Ae Fond Kiss was considered a departure; set in the more affluent communities of the south side and the west end, it explored the relationships between the city’s various ethnic populations.

It focuses on Casim — played by Yaqub — a young DJ with big ideas.

Hard-working, devout and an attentive son, he does what custom and tradition dictate, including settling down with a wife chosen for him by his family.

However, his world turns upside down in a chance meeting with the Irish- Catholic Roisin, played by Birthistle, one of his sister’s school teachers. There is a spark of attraction which is eventually kindled into a relationship.

Casim is torn between living his own life and not disappointing his parents. The pressures on the budding relationship are evident.

Celia Stevenson, who was chairwoman of the Bowmore judging panel, said: “Ae Fond Kiss shows once again that Ken Loach is unsurpassed at recognising the nuances and details of modern society.

“Over the years his films have always been ground-breaking, artful and entertaining, which is surely the essence of any great film maker.”

AfterLife, another film set in Glasgow, earned Lindsay Duncan the Bowmore award as best actress for a role as a terminally ill mother who must care for her Down’s syndrome daughter.

Gerard Butler, who has just finished filming the swashbuckling Beowulf and Grendel, won best actor for his role as the stranger in Dear Frankie. Andrea Gibb, who scripted both Dear Frankie and AfterLife, won the best film-maker award.

Gibb, who is based in Glasgow, paid tribute to the energy and spirit of the Scottish film industry.

“What’s fantastic about Scotland is that gallows humour, that ability to be funny in the face of almost anything,” she said. “The industry also acknowledges that Scotland has many different voices and these are recognised by cinema audiences all over the world.”

The awards will be presented to the winners at a lunch to be held in Glasgow on Tuesday.

 


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