Turin Film Festival Controversy: Ken Loach

Ken LoachKen Loach turns down Turin Film Festival career award in solidarity with laid-off workers

Ken Loach, well-known for his sympathies for the underdog, has turned down the Turin Film Festival’s Gran Premio Torino and will not attend a previously scheduled screening of his film The Angels’ Share on November 26. Loach’s reasons, as explained in an Italian-language statement released by The Angels’ Share Italian distributor, BIM Distribuzione, were tied to a labor dispute involving Turin’s National Film Museum, which also happens to be the Turin festival’s parent organization.

Having been outsourced, the museum’s "lowest-paid workers, the most vulnerable, thus lost their jobs for their opposition to a pay cut," Loach explained in his statement. "In this situation, the organization that procures the services cannot close it eyes, but must assume responsibility for the people it employs, even if they are employed by an outside firm."

Loach added, “We made a film focused on this topic, Bread and Roses. How could I not respond to a request for solidarity from workers who have been fired for fighting for their rights? Accepting the award and confining myself to a few critical comments would be weak and hypocritical. … For these reasons, with great sadness, I feel compelled to turn down the award."

Turin’s National Film Museum, for its part, released its own statement, which read in part: “We’re sorry to have learned that a great film director, whom we’ve always admired, has been poorly informed … [in a manner] that does not in any way reflect the actual facts.”

As a result of Ken Loach’s decision to turn down the career award, the screening of The Angels’ Share has been cancelled by festival organizers. Without explaining the reasons for Loach’s absence, the festival announced on its website that those who bought tickets for The Angels’ Share would get a refund, while another film would be screened in its place.

Turin Film Festival 2012: Ettore Scola homage, Dustin Hoffman’s directorial feature debut, Joseph Losey retrospective

Ken Loach will not show up at the Turin Film Festival, but veteran filmmaker Ettore Scola will be present to receive his Gran Premio Torino on December 1, the last day of the festival. The first day will center on a screening of Dustin Hoffman’s directorial feature debut, Quartet, starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, and Pauline Collins.

Among the films in competition at the Gianni Amelio-directed Turin Film Festival — all first, second, or third works by new filmmakers — are Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche, Amy Seimetz’s Sun Don’t Shine, Mario Balsamo’s Noi non siamo come James Bond (We’re Not Like James Bond), and Mikael Marcimain’s Call Girl.

And finally, the 30th edition of the Turin Film Festival will present an extensive Joseph Losey retrospective. Featuring 37 features and shorts, the Turin festival series will cover Joseph Losey’s movie career from 1939 to 1985. Included in the retrospective are classics such as Accident, The Servant, and The Go-Between, along with lesser known fare such as The Criminal, The Intimate Stranger, and the animated short Pete Roleum and His Cousins.

Ken Loach / Turin’s National Film Museum statements via La Repubblica and The Hollywood Reporter.

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