British film triumphs at Cannes

CANNES: British director Ken Loach was on May 29 savouring an overdue triumph at the Cannes film festival with a movie depicting the brutality of 1920s occupied Ireland which he said was equally applicable to today’s Iraq.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley won the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. It tells the tale of Ireland’s struggle for independence from Britain through the experiences of a young doctor who joins a rag-tag band of guerrillas fighting the ruthless British occupiers.

The 69-year-old director has been blunt in drawing parallels between his movie and the bloody situation in Iraq today. “Maybe if we tell the truth about the past, maybe we tell the truth about the present,” he said as he accepted the award from French actress Emmanuelle Beart.

The runner-up Grand Prix went to another war-themed movie with overtones of Iraq, Flanders by French director Bruno Dumont, which examines the effects a conflict in an unnamed Middle East country has on a young farmer.

The best actor prize went collectively to the French Arab male cast of yet another movie with similar content: Days of Glory, by a French director of Algerian background, Rachid Bouchareb, which shows Algerians and Moroccans fighting for France in World War II.

Volver by Spain’s Pedro Almodovar, ended up taking the best screenplay and best actress prizes — the latter going to the entire female cast, led by Penelope Cruz. Babel, another widely acclaimed ensemble piece about the perils of cultural incomprehension earned Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu the best director’s award.