Ken Loach film The Old Oak has UK premiere in Durham

The Old Oak, directed by Ken Loach has had its UK premiere in Durham. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees/PA

The UK premiere of the Old Oak has been held in Durham, in what is likely to be the last ever film from multi-award-winning director Ken Loach.

The film tells the story of a former County Durham mining community, which has suffered years of decline and explores what happens when a group of Syrian refugees is placed there.

It was shot in the streets of Hordon and Easington with the film crew taking over a former pub in Murton to be the centrepiece of the movie.

It enjoyed its worldwide premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival in May and has now had its first screenings for UK audiences in Durham and then Newcastle ahead of its full release on 29 September.

The Old Oak follows a mining community and explores what happens when a group of Syrian refugees is placed there. Credit: Studiocanel/Sixteen Films

Mr Loach was unable to attend the screening after suffering a fall, he is fine but did not go on the advice of doctors. He spoke to ITV earlier in the week where he explained the idea behind the film.

"The question we asked was how do those two communities relate, how do they find ways to interconnect, would there be hostility? How would the old tradition of solidarity from the mining days reassert itself or would the deprivation lead to hostility."

Those involved in the filming are proud of the product they have produced and the message it carries.

"I think we have made a good film with the right intentions and the right motives," said Dave Turner who plays main character TJ the pub landlord. "I think it is an important film and people go to watch it and take it on its merits."

Paul Laverty, Rebecca O'Brien, Ken Loach, Lesley Ashton, Ebla Mari and Dave Turner at the Old Oak premiere during the Cannes Film Festival. Credit: PA

The North East was key to what the filmmakers wanted to produce after setting similarly hard-hitting movies in the region in the past.

"We had the great fortune of filming I Daniel Blake and also Sorry We Missed You in the North East," writer Paul Laverty explained. "We just felt after those two films that there was just unfinished business and we really wanted to come back.

"The North East is a brilliant place for filmmakers. You meet fantastic people and the film essentially is the people you see in the community. You see those faces on screen.

"There is a great talent here, you can sense its industrial past and its a place full of witty people with a real spirit about it."

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