Hidden Agenda (2160x1023)
Hidden Agenda (1990) © Hemdale Film Corporation

ACMI presents

Hidden Agenda

Ken Loach | UK | 1990 | M

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ACMI Member



Thu 11 Jul 2024

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An all-star cast illuminates Ken Loach's underrated political thriller.

American lawyer Paul Sullivan (Brad Dourif), is working in Northern Ireland as part of a group similar to Amnesty International, when he is assassinated by police who claimed that he failed to stop at a road block and was in the company of a suspected terrorist. His fiancee and fellow activist Ingrid Jessner (Frances McDormand) is left shattered. She has a glimmer of hope that justice will prevail after the arrival of British policeman Paul Kerrigan (Brian Cox) who has been sent to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

Curator's Note

Ken Loach's 1990 film Hidden Agenda marks one of the director's rare forays in the political thriller space. In some ways, the film is un-Loachian. The film stars Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Brian Cox (Succession) and Brad Dourif (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), and while their star status now has been earned over decades-long careers, their casting was certainly a far cry from the non-professional actors cast in films like Loach's Kes (1969) and Poor Cow (1967).

For the film, Loach and screenwriter Jim Allen took inspiration from the real-life investigation into a killing by British security officials. The police official conducting the investigation was allegedly dismissed from the case by the Thatcher government when his findings didn't fit their narrative. As far as political thrillers go, this certainly does feel in Ken Loach's wheelhouse.

Hidden Agenda premiered at the 43rd Cannes Film Festival where it screened in competition. The film also marks one of the final onscreen performances by mid-century movie star and director Mai Zetterling.

– Reece Goodwin, Curator (Film & TV)

Format: DCP
Language: English
Source: Park Circus
Courtesy: Park Circus
Runtime: 108 mins

Event duration

108 mins



Contains violence and coarse language


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Focus on Ken Loach (Thu 4 July – Sun 21 July 2024)

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Focus on Ken Loach | 4–21 July 2024 Film Program
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