Ken Loach was proclaimed the winner at Cannes’ Film Festival with the film “I, Daniel Blake”, the story of a carpenter recovered from a heart attack who meets a single, jobless mother. Exactly fifty years since “Cathy come Home”, Loach’s TV-movie on the homeless, the British film-maker returns to address issues experienced by the working-class, by parents, people who are suddenly left with no means of support owing to an accident, a disease, or misfortune. Nearing his 80th birthday, Loach continues documenting authentic, touching stories of ordinary people who have to struggle for subsistence.
The lifelong social commitment characterizing his movies, coherently reflected in style and topic, is ongoing,
and the victory in Cannes (10 years after The Wind that Shaakes the Barley”, (documenting the civil war in Ireland), reaffirms their strength and, most of all, their topical relevance.
His first movies, marked by relevant polemic and ideological tones, now seem to be positively “dampened”, focusing on low-tone denunciation, less factional than his previous ones, yet still linked to political decisions and to the surging poverty of the last years, to the invisible people in our developed western societies.
A special focus on the poor, on the excluded, on those who for different reasons have guiltily been left behind by a society projected toward the values of money, beauty, youth, and success at all costs.
Movies on the side of the poor, of the weak brackets, documented with the urgency of a filmmaker who won’t surrender to world injustice, denounced with realistic language, starting from participated observation and description of personal stories. Movies worthy of man, documenting his dignity and integrity even when faced with situations that tend to strip him completely of his respectability.
It is no coincidence that in 2012, during the Venice Film Festival, the Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo (Public Entertainment Foundation) selected Ken Loach as the winner of the prestigious Bresson Prize, awarded in recognition of the commitment of filmmakers who, as French director Bresson, typically deal with social issues, with human morality and spirituality. Loach was selected as the recipient of the Prize because: «There is no one quite like him: Ken Loach is the epitome of commitment to the cinema. The last working class hero of the seventh art, who is able to bring together realism and sudden imaginary input, empathy and social criticism, always paying particular attention to the weakest. Ken Loach believes that cinema can still change the world: it can go into factories and the outskirts of a city, marginality and desperation, and come out stronger and more aware. He entrusts the projector to t light up the darkness that is inequality, homo homini lupus. Awarding Ken Loach the Robert Bresson Prize, means establishing a link between these two great filmmakers, and where does this relationship lie if not in the common humanity, the shared desire to talk about man and his yearnings, about the daily battle for a better and dignified future, here and now.”
Thus also the Cannes Film Festival offers a new tribute to this film-maker of the last, of the poor and of the outcast, who never cease reaffirming their profound dignity and humaneness.