Cannes 2016: Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake Wins the Palme d’Or

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Cannes 2016 Winners - I, Daniel Blake wins Palme d'OrCannes has long been a mainstay for Ken Loach on the festival circuit, with more than a dozen of his films making appearances there over the years. Ten years ago, he won his first Palme d’Or for The Wind That Shakes the Barley. And yesterday he walked away from Cannes 2016 with his second Palme d’Or in hand for his very well-received drama, I, Daniel Blake.

Loach joins a small group of filmmakers that have won the Palme d’Or twice in their career, which includes the likes of Michael Haneke and the Dardenne brothers. The prize is often awarded to films that go on to become contenders during awards season, particularly those films, like I, Daniel Blake, that are in the English language. It’s still early days yet, but nominations at the Oscars and at least the BAFTAs must be looking pretty good right about now. eOne has the UK rights, and will undoubtedly be campaigning for it come awards season.

The film stars Dave Johns as the titular Daniel Blake, who falls ill and requires state assistance. While trying to overcome the red tape involved with securing this help, he is joined by a single mother (Hayley Squires) who is forced to take up residence in a flat 300 miles away to escape a homeless persons’ hostel.

After winning the Jury Prize for his fifth feature two years ago, Mommy, celebrated Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan returned to Cannes 2016 and came away with the Grand Prize for his most recent drama, It’s Only the End of the World. The French-language film stars Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, and Gaspard Ulliel.

Olivier Assayas and Cristian Mungiu tied for the Best Director prize for their respective films, Personal Shopper and Graduation. Assayas’ Personal Shopper marked a reunion between him and Kristen Stewart after working together on Clouds of Sils Maria, which went on to become a huge success at the César Awards in France, the country’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) earned Best Screenplay for his film, The Salesman, an adaptation of Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman. It’s his second prize at Cannes, previously winning the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury for his 2013 film, The Past. Shahab Hosseini also earned himself the Best Actor prize for his role in The Salesman, with Jaclyn Jose winning the Best Actress award for her role in Ma’Rosa.

Andrea Arnold walked away with her third Jury Prize in a row at the festival for her latest drama, American Honey, having previously won in 2009 for Fish Tank and 2006 for Red Road. American Honey stars newcomer Sasha Lane as a teenager who joins a travelling magazine sales crew, who gets caught up in the world of hard partying, young love, and bending the law along the way. Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough co-star. Universal’s Focus recently acquired UK rights out of the festival.

Elsewhere at the festival, the Un Certain Regard category saw the Finnish film The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki win the top prize, while Japanese drama Harmonium, starring Tadanobu Asano, won the Jury Prize.

Matt Ross came away with the Best Director prize for his film Captain Fantastic, also already acquired for the UK by eOne. And writer-directors Delphine and Muriel Coulin won Best Screenplay for their film The Stopover.

Studio Ghibli’s latest feature, The Red Turtle, won huge praise from critics and earned itself the Un Certain Regard Special Prize. It’s the first film in the Japanese animation house’s history not to be directed by a Japanese director, helmed by Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit. Sony Pictures Classics bought North American and Latin American rights to the wordless film out of Cannes 2016.

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