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Ken Loach backs Jonathan Glazer for ‘very brave’ Oscars speech denouncing Israel’s war on Gaza

Ken Loach has called Jonathan Glazer “very brave” for his controversial speech denouncing Israel’s war on Gaza at the 96th Academy Awards.

The acclaimed British director said he had “great respect” for Glazer in an interview with Variety.

“And I’m sure he understood the possible consequences, which makes him braver still, so I’ve got great respect for him and his work,” he said.

Glazer won the Best International Feature Film award for The Zone of Interest, a Holocaust drama set in Auschwitz. Accepting his Oscar, Glazer delivered a powerful speech, relating events in his film to Israel’s assault on Gaza.

“Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation, which has led to conflict for so many innocent people,” the director said. “Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanisation – how do we resist?”

Glazer received severe criticism inside Hollywood, with many of his Jewish critics reading his speech as refuting his Jewish identity. But he also drew praise and support from across the film industry.

Rebecca O’Brien, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach and guests attend the 2024 BAFTAs (Getty Images)
Rebecca O’Brien, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach and guests attend the 2024 BAFTAs (Getty Images)

Loach acknowledged the backlash against Glazer, but added that the filmmaker also received “lots of support from many, many Jewish people who said it breaks the stereotype that all Jewish people support what Israel is doing, because clearly that’s not the case”.

“It was hugely valuable in that it shows that diversity. So I’ve got great respect for what he did,” he added.

Loach, 87, is known for films that tackle the subjects of homelessness, poverty, mental health, and labour rights. His most recent film, and which he claims will be his last, The Old Oak, is centred on a mining town that has fallen on hard times and explores what happens when a family of Syrian refugees is placed there by British authorities.

At the Baftas in February, Loach and The Old Oak crew were vocal in their support for a ceasefire in Gaza. They talked about it on the red carpet and posed for photos holding up a sign that said “Stop the massacre”.

Loach said he regretted not getting a project on Palestine off the ground. “That was a subject that I would have liked to have worked on but I didn’t know quite how to tackle it. It would have had to be a documentary, but it was a big project and certainly beyond me for the last decade,” he said.