After years producing Ken Loach's work, Tony Garnett made his directing debut with this controversial 1980 feature.
When Tony Garnett set out to direct his first feature film he already had twenty years experience under his belt as an actor and then as a producer on films including Cathy Come Home and Kes. Garnett retained from his work with Ken Loach an emphasis on location shooting, non-actors and a candid approach to thorny issues; in this case prostitution in his hometown of Birmingham. At the heart of the story is Sandra (Forsythe), an ambitious working girl tired of police harassment who decides to give London a try. Inevitably the world which Prostitute depicts is not pretty, but there is plenty of humour and humanity here too.
With the passing of time the film has also become a vivid document of Balsall Heath, an area which changed radically in the 1990s when local community action shut down the red light district (a campaign often cited by David Cameron as the Big Society in embryo). Filmmaker George Fleming grew up locally, and has made a short film charting some of these changes which will show before the main feature. We’re also delighted that Tony Garnett will be back in Birmingham tonight to discuss the unique process behind Prostitute.
The BFI is releasing Tony Garnett's Prostitute on DVD & Blu-ray on 25 April.
Dir: Tony Garnett
With: Kate Crutchley, Kim Lockett, Nancy Samuels, Riccardo Mangano
Running time: 97 mins