50 Years of the New York Film Festival

NYFF ‘70: Kes

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NYFF ‘70: Kes
Ken Loach, 1969
UK | English | Format: 35mm | 110 minutes

New 35mm print!

Ken Loach’s classic second feature as director tells the story of a bullied, directionless 15-year-old boy, Billy (David Bradley) who dreams of escaping an inevitably bleak future in his poor coal mining town. His life suddenly develops new meaning when he steals a young kestrel falcon from its nest and begins training the bird in the art of falconry. A lyrical, markedly unsentimental study of transitory freedom in a rigidly classist, economically and spiritually impoverished society, Kes was hailed by the late Polish filmmaker Krzystof Kieslowski as one of the 10 films that most affected him in his life.

"It is very kind of you to show Kes again. The film seems to have lasted much longer than we dared hope. It used to be shown in schools quite a lot. In fact it was shown so often that the rumour was that any child who misbehaved had to watch it again as punishment. I am in touch with the boy who played Billy Casper – he’s now a middle-aged gentleman still living in Barnsley.

"At the time we thought Billy was neglected by the school and wider society. Today, young people his age would think he was lucky. He had a job. At least one in five young people now are neither in education nor have work. The community he grew up in was destroyed by Margaret Thatcher’s government when the mines were shut down. I know this situation is the same throughout Europe and the western world. It’s time we got organized on behalf of all the Billy Caspers." —Director Ken Loach

“Universally hailed both in London and at Cannes as the best British film since If, Kes is the sleeper of the year.” —NYFF8 program note

Image courtesy of WOODFALL/KESTREL / THE KOBAL COLLECTION / BARNETT, MICHAEL

Series: 50 Years of the New York Film Festival

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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