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Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ Wins Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or

In an awards ceremony filled with upsets, top acting prizes go to Jaclyn Jose for ”Ma’ Rosa“ and Shahab Hosseini for ”The Salesman“


In a huge surprise, Ken Loach‘s working-class drama “I, Daniel Blake” has won the Palme d’Or as the best film of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

It marks the veteran British director’s second Palme. His first came for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” a decade ago.

“I, Daniel Blake” focuses on a elderly British carpenter who forms a friendship with a young single mother as they both struggle with an implacable and unfeeling bureaucracy that makes life harder for the lower classes.

While stars Dave Johns and Hayley Squires received admiring reviews and the film was generally well received, it did not garner nearly the raves of other films at Cannes, most notably the pre-ceremony favorite, Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann.”

That film went home empty-handed at a ceremony in the Grand Theatre Lumiere on Sunday evening, as did other well-received films like Jim Jarmusch‘s quiet “Paterson,” Park Chan-wook‘s wildly stylish “The Handmaiden,” Kleber Mendonca Filho’s character study “Aquarius,” Cristi Puiu’s slowly paced “Sieranevada” and Paul Verhoeven‘s transgressive “Elle.”

Romanian director Cristian Mungiu and Frenchman Olivier Assayas tied for the best director award for “Graduation” and “Personal Shopper,” respectively. Assayas’ film was booed at its first press screening, but the jury clearly did not agree with the press at this year’s festival.

Another film that was roundly booed, Xavier Dolan‘s family-nightmare talkfest “It’s Only the End of the World,” won the grand prize, which is the festival’s second place award.

The Jury Prize, in effect the third-place award, was given to British director Andrea Arnold‘s raucous “American Honey.” It marks the third time Arnold has won that award, after “Red Road” and “Fish Tank.”

The acting awards, both significant surprises, went to Filipino actress Jaclyn Jose for “Ma’ Rosa” and Iranian actor Shahab Hosseini for “The Salesman.” The pre-ceremony favorites were Sonia Braga for “Aquarius” and Adam Driver for “Paterson.”

The screenplay winner was Asghar Farhadi for “The Salesman,” making it one of the rare films to win two awards at Cannes.

The Camera d’Or, the award for the best first film at the festival, went to “Divines” by Houda Benyamina.

The 21-film competition field at this year’s festival was considered extremely strong, though nobody predicted that “I, Daniel Blake” would be the film to come out on top.

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival jury was headed by “Mad Max” director George Miller, and also included actors Donald Sutherland and Mads Mikkelsen, actresses Kirsten Dunst, Valeria Golino and Vanessa Paradis, directors Laszlo Nemes and Arnaud Desplechin and producer Katayoon Shahabi.

Short film awards went to “Timecode” by Juanjo Gimenez and “The Girl Who Danced With the Devil” by Joao Paulo Miranda Maria.

French actor Jean-Pierre Leaud (“The 400 Blows,” “Alphaville,” “Day for Night”) received an honorary Palme d’Or.

The awards:

Palme d’Or: “I, Daniel Blake,” Ken Loach
Grand Prize: “It’s Only the End of the World,” Xavier Dolan
Jury Prize: “American Honey,” Andrea Arnold
Best Director: (tie) Cristian Mungiu, “Graduation” (“Bacalaureat”); Olivier Assayas, “Personal Shopper”
Best Actress: Jaclyn Jose, “Ma’ Rosa”
Best Actor: Shahab Hosseini, “The Salesman”
Best Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi, “The Salesman”
Camera d’Or (best first feature): “Divines,” Houda Benyamina
Best Short Film: “Timecode,” Juanjo Gimenez
Short Film Special Mention: “The Girl Who Danced With the Devil,” Joao Paulo Miranda Maria
Honorary Palme d’Or: Jean-Pierre Leaud