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Winds of war win top honour for Loach

Veteran British filmmaker Ken Loach overcame tough competition to win the coveted Palme d'Or for his film, The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 12:12 IST

Veteran British filmmaker Ken Loach overcame tough competition to win the coveted Palme d'Or as the Cannes jury handed out honours to films dealing with the brutalities of war.

It was eighth time lucky for Loach with The Wind That Shakes The Barley, his powerful film about the early days of Ireland's struggle for independence from Britain, which the director acknowledged was a critique of war in Iraq.

Loach, who celebrates his 70th birthday next month, is known for his uncompromising films focusing on the harsh realities of life for the world's oppressed and forgotten in a career spanning some four decades.

His film stars newcomer Cillian Murphy as a young doctor who abandons his plans to study in a London hospital to join a rag-tag band of guerrillas fighting the ruthless British soldiers.

The film is brutal in its portrayal of the violence meted out by the Black and Tans, but also unflinchingly shows what happens when an unpopular peace treaty which pledges allegiance to the British crown tears the brothers apart.

But it was a surprise decision by the jury, headed by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai, after critics had widely tipped Volver by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar for the top honour.

Wong said the jury had been looking for films which "reflected compassion hope, bonding and solidarity."

A delighted Loach thanked the jury of the "most wonderful festival of cinema in the world".