Cannes Winner Ken Loach Faces British Press Attack

by | June 16, 2006 | Comments

After winning the Palme d’Or with "The Wind That Shakes The Barley," English director Ken Loach has found harsher critics on his home turf than those in attendance at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

"Wind," a brutal war story of two Irish brothers politicized and torn apart by the Irish Civil War of the early 1920s, was a surprise win at Cannes. Reviews were mixed, but the film’s selection to take the festival’s top honor seemed a validation of its historical theme, championing a voice (early Irish Republicans battling the British empire) that is seldom heard.

With "Wind" opening in British theaters next week, some members of the British press have wasted no time in blasting Loach for his film’s politics. Articles in "The Sun," "The Daily Mail," and "The Times" heavily criticize Loach’s Irish sympathies, realized onscreen in "Wind" in the vilification of the British-backed Black and Tans militia and the involvement of its protagonist (played by Cillian Murphy) in the IRA’s guerilla organization.

In a candid interview with UK paper "The Guardian," Loach defends himself against the political wave of criticism surrounding his film (among which he’s been compared to Hitler lenswoman Leni Riefenstahl and called a traitor to his country). Loach is a public figure in the leftist RESPECT political party; many of his detractors are avowed Conservatives.

Loach also makes the point that, although 300 prints of "Wind" have been bought for theatrical distribution in France, only 40 have been requested in England. As of yet, the Cannes first-place winner has not secured North American distribution, despite its high-profile win last month.

To read the "Guardian" interview, click here.

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