“It’s a very interesting thing because when it won the Palme d’Or (the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2006) the one who was really furious was Michael Gove, the man who is now the Conservative minister for education in the U.K. At the time he was a Tory and a freelance journalist.
“I’m paraphrasing what he said, but what he said is very important. ‘These filmmakers have turned history on its head,’ Gove said. ‘What really happened was that Republicans always had an easy way out but always chose the violent path.’”
To address those claims in The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Laverty says he made certain to include the fact that in 1918 Sinn Fein won 72 of 105 seats.
“When that democratic vote was not respected, out of that came the War of Independence. So it was Gove who turned history on its head,” Laverty says.
“It’s a lovely irony that now he’s the minister for education. He’s the one who’s attacking the history syllabus in the schools.”
Laverty's lifelong engagement with politics accidentally led to his career as screenwriter, he reveals. He wrote to Loach in the 1990s when he decided that fiction might be the best way to explore his political preoccupations, and he received encouragement from the filmmaker for his efforts, which led to a decades long collaboration between the pair.
With their Irish-Scottish and English backgrounds, they have kept a particular eye on how the economy has shaped the recent history of all three nations. Ireland's financial troubles have particularly dismayed him.
“There are young people growing up there now whose whole lives are mortgaged to this terrible financial disaster. That deal that was done over the Irish bank bailouts in one night!” he says.
“It was wonderful to see a parliamentary committee discuss the Irish budget in such detail. The only problem was that it was the German parliamentary committee doing it, not the Irish one.”
In The Angels’ Share Loach and Laverty consciously set out to give young people beaten down by decades of poverty and deprivation a once in a lifetime shot a something that would otherwise completely elude them -- a happy ending.
The Angels’ Share, we discover, is the term for the two percent of whiskey that evaporates from a barrel over the course of a year, but it's also a handy description of the unexpected windfall that enriches young Robbie's life just at the moment it's needed most.
The film is a tough as nails but an increasingly hilarious tale with a happy ending for our times, delivered with help from Rhino, Albert and Mo, three former petty criminals also down on their luck.
It's not a fairy tale ending, though. This is Glasgow, and these are harder nuts to crack.
Laverty and Loach know these streets in their bones, as well as the hard won hopes and dreams that reside there. The result is the most compelling new film of 2013.
Catch the trailer for 'The Angels' Share' here:
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