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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 08:12 GMT
Ken Loach boards train of thought
By Neil Smith
BBC News entertainment reporter

Award-winning British film-maker Ken Loach has contributed to three-part movie drama Tickets.

Ken Loach
Ken Loach's films include Kes, Ae Fond Kiss and My Name is Joe
In 2001 Loach directed The Navigators, a one-off TV drama about the privatisation of British Rail and the job losses and cutbacks that ensued.

This month sees him return to the railways, albeit in a rather different capacity.

In Tickets, the veteran film-maker directs one of three interlocking stories set on the same Rome-bound train.

As usual, Loach tackles serious issues - in this case, the plight of illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe and the persecution and hostility they often face in the West.

The film started when Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami suggested producing a trilogy of feature-length documentaries by three different directors.

Kiarostami approached Loach and Italy's Ermanno Olmi, who suggested making it a fictional movie instead.

'Friendly cooperation'

"We got together a couple of times and the idea of a train journey linking the stories came up," Loach told the BBC News website.

"We tried to make connections between the stories, with characters appearing in more than one.

"Inevitably people do what they were going to do anyway, but it was a very friendly co-operation and we enjoyed each other's company."

Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach and Ermanni Olmi
Loach directs Tickets with Abbas Kiarostami (l) and Ermanno Olmi (r)
Fans of Loach's work will recognise the heroes of his episode, who are played by a trio of young Scottish actors who appeared in his 2002 film Sweet Sixteen.

"They're not playing the same characters obviously, but when we were planning the story those three lads fit the bill."

The story, written by Loach's regular collaborator Paul Laverty, tells of a group of Celtic fans whose journey to a Champions League match hits the buffers when a young stowaway steals one of their tickets.

The theft brings them into contact with an Albanian family making a perilous trip across the continent.

"It's about three football supporters who are drawn into a real life-and-death situation involving people from a similar social class," said Loach.

"They could be the equivalents of their mothers or sisters or brothers, caught in a situation that is pretty desperate.

"It's a very human dilemma - the struggle between getting involved and not getting involved," he continued.

'Pivotal event'

"But it's not a message film, despite some of the ideas that are kicking around underneath."

The plot sounds simple, but getting the multinational production made on the tightest of budgets was anything but.

"Planning and Italian film-making are mutually exclusive concepts," Loach remarks wryly.