Cannes Film Festival Wrap-Up
                                                                      The Popcorn Reel From Over Here: The 59th Cannes Film Festival   

Ken Loach

Man about Cannes: British filmmaker Ken Loach holds the Palme D'Or, the top Cannes Film Festival award, for which his film "The Wind That Shakes The Barley", won.

On Sunday evening, May 28, at a post-Cannes Film Festival press conference the Cannes Feature Film Jury headed by director Wong Kar Wai, explained the reasoning for selecting Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" as the Palme D'Or winner.  Said Mr. Wong: "we chose from the heart. . . [the vote] was unanimous."  Jury member Helena Bonham-Carter, who is from England, said, "[the film] . . .was so intense, and viscerally moving.  There's no explaining it.  It hit all of us very profoundly.  It was not only a fantastic education about the Irish problem, but it was also emotionally for me because I could understand something that I thought I never could understand. . . .For me it had tremendous humanity."  In fact, "Wind" was one of five entries in the feature film competition about war. 

Mr. Loach, who was born in Warwickshire, England, spoke in French and English when accepting his award.  His film describes the Irish Republican Army in its early days in the 1920's from an Irish perspective.  During his acceptance speech, Mr. Loach drew a parallel to the current conflict in Iraq, saying that "maybe if we tell the truth about the past, maybe we tell the truth about the present."  The filmmaker who has had 12 previous films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival over years, added: "our film is a little, a very little step in the British confronting their imperialist history." 

French director and jury member Patrice Leconte chimed in.  "
When I saw Ken Loach's film the first day, it filled me with enormous emotion that has never left me. . . . In a corner of our hearts, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" remained there, as strong as ever.  That is why, this morning, in the space of a very short time, this film was unanimously chosen to be the Palme d'Or."

In a jury that included five actors (Ms. Carter, Samuel L. Jackson, Monica Bellucci, Ziyi Zhang, and Tim Roth), the acting prizes were split between ten actors -- five women from Pedro Almodovar's highly touted "Volver", and five men from "Days of Glory" ("Indigenes"), a film directed by Rachid Bouchareb.  These two films focus on family and brotherhood respectively, and in that spirit the Jury acted accordingly.  Said Mr. Jackson: "we did think that all of these actors complemented each other, that the success of both those stories with these actors acting in concert, and their ability to communicate to us the unity of purpose and the professionalism that they all showed."

Penelope Cruz, one of five actresses in Pedro Almodovar's "Volver"                            Four actors out of the five in "Days of Glory" who won the top acting prize at Cannes
                       to win the top acting prize at the Cannes Film Festival.                                                   on Sunday May 28.  The film was directed by Rachid Bouchareb.

Paola Ardizzoni & Emilio Pereda                                          Photo: Tessalit Productions

Palestinian director Elie Suleman recognized that the films that won and those in competition in general had a distinctly current affairs theme that did not go unnoticed by any of the other Jury members, saying that it was "not by accident" that the films reflected what was going on in the world right now.

"The Wind That Shakes the Barley" will open in the United Kingdom on June 23, in Argentina on September 28 and in France on November 8.

"Volver" will open in Germany on August 10, in the United Kingdom on August 25, in Finland on September 1, in the United States on October 20 (LA and NY), in Argentina on October 26, in Brazil on November 10 and in Japan on November 18.

"Days of Glory" ("Indigenes") will open in France on September 27.  No further information is known about when the film will be released elsewhere.

In other awards, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu accepted the Best Director award for "Babel", which stars Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael Garcia Bernal.  Mr. Inarritu previously directed "21 Grams" and "Amores Perros".  Bruno Dumont won the Grand Prize for his film "Flandres".  The French director had won the Palme D'Or in 1999 for his film "Humanite".  Mr. Dumont's last film was "Twentynine Palms".  The Jury Prize went to Andrea Arnold for "Red Road".

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