The Wind That Shakes the Barley director scoops further acclaim
Ken Loach scooped his second Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for I, Daniel Blake – a portrayal of a disabled man’s struggle with the social welfare system in England.
The left-wing director, 79, received the top prize from actor Mel Gibson having already attacked austerity measures earlier on in the festival.
Loach previously won the Palme d’Or in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes the Barley – a drama set during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
A veteran filmmaker, he has often documented Irish struggles, directing Hidden Agenda in 1990, a political thriller set during The Troubles, and Jimmy’s Hall in 2014, a film about Jimmy Gralton and the Irish Communist Party.
He explained that it was strange to receive the accolade in such opulent surroundings, given the miserable living conditions of the people who inspired his film.
“There is a conscious cruelty in the way that we are organising our lives now, where the most vulnerable people are told that their poverty is their own fault,” he told reporters earlier in the festival.
“If you have no work it’s your fault you haven’t got a job. Never mind in Britain, there is mass unemployment throughout Europe.”
I, Daniel Blake is a realistic drama about a middle-aged widower who, after a heart attack, can neither work nor get government money.
It follows his frustrations as he winds his way through an archaic system that seems designed to bring him down.
By awarding Loach this title, the Cannes film jury continued their trend of being famously unpredictable.
Elsewhere, despite mixed reviews, director Asghar Farhadi’s film The Salesman picked up several awards including best screenplay and best actor for Shahab Hosseini.
Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, who was a favourite to win the Palme d’Or for Graduation, won the best director award, which he shared with French director Olivier Assayas for his paranormal thriller Personal Shopper, starring former Twilight star Kristen Stewart.
Meanwhile Jaclyn Jose became the first Filipino to win the best actress award.
Jose won for her performance as a mother who falls prey to corrupt police after being forced to sell drugs to survive in Ma’ Rosa.
Click here for a full list of winners from this year’s Cannes Film Festival.