KEN LOACH WINS CANNES’ TOP PRIZE
British director Ken Loach was the surprise winner of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival’s top Palme d’Or award. Loach triumphed with his film I, Daniel Blake, about a heart-attack survivor battered by the bureaucracy of the British welfare system. The title character was portrayed by Dave Johns, an English stand-up comedian in his first film. Few had predicted the win. The critical favorite, Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, received not a single award. However, another film that also received much praise from critics, Romanian director Christian Mungui’s Graduation, won for best director, shared with French director Olivier Assayas for Personal Shopper, which starred Kristen Stewart.Taking home the second-place Grand Prix award was Canadian director Xavier Dolan. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s film The Salesman collected two awards, including best screenplay and best actor for Shahab Hosseini. The Jury Prize went to British director Andrea Arnold’s nearly three-hour movie American Honey, about a gaggle of young, disaffected misfits who tour the country selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door.
The jury was headed by George Miller, the Australian director whose Mad Max: Fury Road opened last year’s Cannes festival (out of competition). Mel Gibson was on stage at the Palais des Festivals to hand out this year’s awards.
It was the second win for Loach, whose The Wind That Shakes the Barley was awarded the Palme d’Or in 2006, but it was the 13th time that one of his films has competed at the prestigious festival. Nearly all of those films have touched on social injustice, and, accepting this year’s award, Loach remarked, “Film has many traditions and one of them is to present protest against those more powerful and mighty. I hope this is a tradition that goes on.”