Film director gets top Keele Uni honour (VIDEO)
AWARD-WINNING director Ken Loach has picked up an honour at Keele University.
Mr Loach has been made an honorary doctor of letters by the university in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film.
The 72-year-old, who won the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival for his film The Wind That Shakes The Barley, is known for his naturalistic directing style and unflinching political views.
He was among hundreds of graduates receiving degrees at the university's winter graduation ceremonies yesterday.
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Introducing Mr Loach, Professor Ian Bell said: "Ken Loach has displayed himself consistently as a filmmaker of extraordinary integrity and commitment, unsurpassed in the history of British cinema.
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Video: A clip from Ken Loach's film, Kes
"In Ken Loach we celebrate a man of strong convictions and humanity."
Professor Bell told the graduating students Mr Loach had famously refused an OBE because he did not want to be associated with the "villains" who had received it in the past.
As he stood to receive his honorary doctorate, Mr Loach said this latest honour was far more welcome.
He said: "Unlike the OBE you mentioned, this is a club I'm really delighted to be a member of. There are no villains here, as far as I can see."
Mr Loach, an Oxford graduate, started working as a television director in the 1960s, and in 1966 he made the influential docu-drama Cathy Come Home, which deals with the issue of homelessness.
Three years later, he made probably his best known film: Kes, the story of a troubled boy and his kestrel.
The Nuneaton-born filmmaker told the students he had been asked to say a few words to inspire them, but what he really wanted to do was apologise for the state of the world they were inheriting.
He said: "When I graduated, what was handed on to me by the previous generation was much better than what my generation and the generation before are handing on to you.
"Back then, we owned the electricity, we owned the gas, we owned the telephones. We had a firm belief that what we did collectively was better than what we did separately."
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Video: The library scene from Kes
But Mr Loach said he had been encouraged by the sight of students such as those at Keele who had protested over the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza.
He said: "That showed that people do care, and it disproves the belief that students just look after number one. That shows there is hope for the future."
Mr Loach has previously been awarded honorary degrees by Staffordshire University, Oxford and the University of Birmingham.