Loach film kicks off French fest

DINARD, France — Ken Loach’s “It’s a Free World” kicked off the Dinard Festival of British Cinema on Thursday, as the film’s Gaul debut offered Brittany auds a glimpse of what illegal immigrant labor issues are like across the Channel.

Honorees helmer Shane Meadows and producer partner Marc Herbert appeared at the opening ceremony. Dinard is screening a selection of the duo’s pics as a tribute, including “Dead Man’s Shoes,” winner of fest’s 2005 Golden Hitchcock.

Meadows took the stage Thursday night to reveal that he had contemplated retiring as a director just a few years ago, but that winning the Golden Hitchcock helped him through those dark days.

“Dinard is my lucky rabbit’s foot,” Meadows said, after explaining what a rabbit’s foot meant to the French attendees.

One of France’s best-known and best-loved thesps, Josiane Balasko, is this year’s jury president, making what she admitted was her first visit to one of France’s more famous resort towns. Other French thesps on the jury include Linh Dan Pham, Sylvie Testud and Cecile Cassel.

Thesps Kerry Fox and Imelda Staunton and documentary filmmaker Michael Grigsby are on the jury from the U.K.

On Sunday the jury will hand out the fest’s Hitchcock d’Or for film, which comes with e3,000 ($4,240) award for distribution costs and a $2,260 for the director.

Films in competition include David Mackenzie’s “Hallam Foe,” Mark Jenkin’s “The Midnight Drives,” Sarah Gavron’s “Brick Lane,” John Carney’s “Once,” Asif Kapadia’s “Far North,” and Julian Jarrold’s “Becoming Jane.”

The fest will close with Pascal Thomas’ “L’heure Zero” on Sunday.  

Some 20,000 film lovers will get the chance to see British productions on the bigscreen for a budget ticket price of $7.

The fest will host more than 40 films. French premieres include Anand Tucker’s “And When Did You Last See Your Father?,” Joe Wright’s “Atonement,” Laurin Federlein’s “Build a Ship, Sail to Sadness,” Ian Seller’s “The Englishman,” Leonard Abrahamson’s “Garage,” Anthony Byrne’s “How About You,” Oliver Parker’s “I Really Hate My Job,” Tom Collins’ “Kings,” Marc Munden’s “The Mark of Cain,” Bille Eltringham’s “Mrs. Ratcliffe’s Revolution,” Kevin Macdonald’s “My Enemy’s Enemy,” Mike Kaplan’s “Never Apologise,” Jan Dunn’s Ruby Blue,” and Tom Shankland’s “Waz.”

Dinard is known as the French Brighton, where many French families have second-home manors along the rocky coast — one of which was the inspiration for the mansion in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”

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