The first rule about not being in Cannes is that you can still talk about Cannes.
I, Daniel Blake (Moi, Daniel Blake)
United Kingdom, France
To say the 79 year-old Ken Loach is a British legend and Cannes favorite is an under-statement indeed. His relationship with the festival is nearly 40 years old. FIPRESCI Prize? Won, multiple times. Jury Prize? Won, again multiple times. Prize of the Ecumenical Jury? You guessed it. Add to that a Young Cinema Award, a 30th Anniversary Prize for his body of work, and finally the elusive Palme d’Or for The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006. Loach is on familiar, touching turf with his latest social urgency effort I, Daniel Blake – the middle-aged widower of the title who is a victim of a heart attack and the struggles of the British employment and benefits system. Daniel befriends a single mother Katie, providing the film with tender and hopeful moments, as well as Loach’s template grit, sobriety and brutal reality.
Fearless Loach has been there, done that. Except Best Director. His reputation will stand him in good stead here or else he may blend into the fog of film-making talent on show this year. Screenwriter Paul Laverty is a strong shout, as is Dave Johns as Blake. Watch out for Hayley Squires though for Best Actress.