May 22 - The director presents his fifth film at the Cannes Film Festival. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Cannes regular Ken Loach said on Thursday (May 22) that his new period drama 'Jimmy's Hall' offers a platform for the 'alternative voice' that's as much a question for today's society as it was in 1930's Ireland where his film is set. 'Jimmy's Hall' stars Barry Ward as political activist James Gralton, a man who challenged the Catholic Church's view on free speech by setting up a hall for evening dance nights and daytime music, dance, boxing and literature lessons. The film opens with Jimmy returning to his home village in County Leitrim after a ten year break in New York, to find the social club he built a decade earlier abandoned and derelict. With the help of his neighbors and love interest Oonagh (Simone Kirby) he gets the hall re-opened, but despite it's popularity with the local community the catholic church were unhappy. Following an arson attack on the social club in 1933 Gralton was arrested and deported without trial to the U.S. - where he died in 1945. Speaking at his film's news conference in Cannes, Loach compared Gralton's story to that of WikiLeaks whistle blower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning . "I think it's a huge issue of dissidents and countering the prevailing consciousness, sometimes secrets that the powerful don't want expressed get out - for example Chelsea Manning through WikiLeaks told us some of the secrets of the Iraq war and the murderous things that were done in our name. But of course it's not the murderous who go to prison, it's Chelsea Manning. It's the suppression of dissidents, this suppression of counter voices. The biggest problem we've got, many of us in Europe, is that there is one political idea which is allowed currency, and that is that the free market, the neo-liberal agenda has to operate, that's the only way, it's given by God, there's no other way of organizing society. And that anything that counteracts that is like, pushed to the edges." Loach has been asked to compete 12 times in the film festival and he won the Palme d'Or with 2006's Irish nationalist epic 'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' which was set during the period of Ireland's War of Independence from 1919-1923. 'Jimmy's Hall' is one of the 18 films competing for this year's prestigious Palme d'Or which is due to be presented on Saturday May 24th .