This was a keynote Ken Loach gave for the 2010 London Film Festival written on the Guardian and reposted here:
Film is an extraordinary medium. Like theatre, it has all the elements of drama. It has character, plot, conflict, resolution. You can compare it to the visual arts, to painting, to drawing; it can document reality, like still photographs. It can explain and record like journalism, and it can be a polemic, like a pamphlet. It can be prosaic and poetic, it can be tragic and comic, it can be escapist and committed, surreal and realist. It can do all these things.
So, how have we protected and nurtured and developed this great, exciting, complex medium? How have we looked after it, and does it fulfil its potential?
Over a seven-year period, the US market share of box-office takings in British cinemas was between 63% and 80%. The UK share, which was mainly for American co-productions, was between 15% and 30%; films from Europe and the rest of the world took only 2% to 3%. So for most people it’s almost impossible to have a choice of films; you get what you’re given. As for television, only 3.3% of the films shown on TV are from European and world cinema.
Just imagine, if you went into the library and the bookshelves were stacked with 63% to 80% American fiction, 15% to 30% half-American, half-British fiction, and then all the other writers in the whole world just 3%. Imagine that in the art galleries, in terms of pictures; imagine it in the theatres. You can’t, it is inconceivable – and yet this is what we do to the cinema, which we think is a most beautiful art.