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Ken Loach takes Palme d'Or at Cannes (2006)

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

Story by Jack Foley

BRITISH director Ken Loach has taken the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes for his controversial film, The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

The film recounts Ireland’s early struggle for independence and describes the early days of the IRA. It stars Cillian Murphy.

In announcing the decision, Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, who led this year’s Cannes jury, said the panel had looked for films which reflected “compassion, hope, bonding and solidarity”.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley was one of 19 films in competition and beat off strong competition from Pedro Almodovar’s pre-festival favourite, Volver, and Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel.

Loach, 69, is no stranger to Cannes, having been in the running for the Palme d’Or on seven previous occasions.

But he was clearly surprised and delighted to have been handed the award, thanking the jury and declaring Cannes to be “the most wonderful festival of cinema in the world”.

He added: “Our film is a little, a very little step in the British confronting their imperialist history.”

Loach, who is also a fierce critic of the US invasion of Iraq, went on to predict the hope that “if we tell the truth about the past, maybe we tell the truth about the present”.

Other winners at Cannes

Although Almodovar missed out on the top prize for Volver, his entire female cast, led by Penelope Cruz, were collectively awarded the best actress honour, while the director himself won best screenplay.

The best actor prize, meanwhile, was given collectively to the French-Arab cast of Days of Glory, led by Jamel Debbouze.

The film, directed by Rachid Bouchareb, describes the treatment of North African soldiers who fought for France in World War II.

Another UK director, Andrea Arnold, took the special jury prize for her debut feature, Red Road, to complete a memorable year for the Brits at Cannes.

Read our preview of The Wind That Shakes The Barley
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