How do you manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? It’s the great dilemma the world has faced since the dawn of the nuclear age. From the director of the groundbreaking film Food, Inc., and the executive producer of the Oscar-nominated film Last Days in Vietnam, comes Command and Control, the long-hidden story of a deadly accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas in 1980. The chilling documentary features the minute-by-minute accounts of Air Force personnel, weapon designers, and first responders who were on the scene that night, and recounts the feverish efforts to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States. (

Director Robert Kenner ratchets up the tension in a film that is both a thrilling disaster movie and a probing documentary about the threat posed by aging nuclear warheads in our midst. The action centers on a true account of a nuclear accident in 1980 and the workers who raced to repair a damaged missile before it exploded. Suspenseful and thought-provoking, COMMAND AND CONTROL is a compelling cautionary tale. — Mark Page


COMMAND AND CONTROL is screening at AFI DOCS on Saturday, June 25th, 2016 at 3:00 P.M. at Landmark 1. For more details visit: Command and Control





On December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old gunman forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and murdered 20 schoolchildren and six educators. In the aftermath of the killings, filmmaker Kim Snyder traveled to Newtown and trained her lens on a grieving community, following several families who came face to face with tragedy. NEWTOWN reveals both the indelible scars gun violence leaves behind and the resilience of people who come together to heal.  — Vicki Warren

Filmed over the course of nearly three years, the filmmakers use unique access and never before heard testimonies to tell a story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history on December 14, 2012. NEWTOWN documents a traumatized community fractured by grief and driven toward a sense of purpose. Joining the ranks of a growing club to which no one wants to belong, a cast of characters interconnect to weave an intimate story of community resilience.

NEWTOWN, a 2016 AFI DOCS Spotlight Screening, is scheduled to show on Thursday, June 23rd, 2016, at 5:45 P.M. at the Newseum.


“You won’t truly understand gun violence until you see the NEWTOWN documentary.” – Esquire

“A breathtaking gut punch. This film is an important historical record, and an important reminder of an event in American history that could have changed everything, that should have changed everything. NEWTOWN is a crucial reminder of that.” – Indiewire

For more details visit: Newton/AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center.




“Doc & Darryl” World Premiere

One of three documentary world premiere’s at the 2016 AFI DOCS, Doc & Darryl, tells the story of the men behind the headlines of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets phenomenons Dwight “Doc” Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. The film is directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio and will be screened on Sunday, June 25th, 2016, at 5:15 P.M., at the Landmark 1 in downtown Washington, D.C.  Get tickets here: Doc & Darryl




Doc & Darryl Film Summary

When they were good, they were the biggest stars on a team that captured New York City and the 1986 World Series. But when they were bad, Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry broke the hearts of Mets fans. “They were going to be our guys for years,” laments Jon Stewart in this evocative yet searing 30 for 30 documentary directed by Judd Apatow (“Trainwreck”) and Michael Bonfiglio (“You Don’t Know Bo”). Reunited at a diner in Queens, the pitcher and the power hitter look back on the glory days of the mid-’80s and the harrowing nights that turned them from surefire Hall of Famers into prisoners of their own addictions. Listening to Doc talk about missing the parade down the Canyon of Heroes, or Darryl counsel others at his ministry, you can only wish that these two very different men had not followed the same destructive path.

Director’s Take

The stories of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden seem inextricably linked, whether the lives of these two very different men are actually intertwined or not. Both phenoms drafted by the Mets straight out of high school, their parallel meteoric rises in early-1980s New York and the demons that plagued them turned these two superstars and franchise saviors into tabloid fodder and punchlines. We were interested in understanding the men behind the headlines, and what drove them to their spectacular highs and lows. We hope that this film humanizes Doc and Darryl, and in doing so sheds light on issues that we can all relate to in our own lives or the lives of those around us.


Get tickets here: Doc & Darryl

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CHECK IT Advance tickets sold out @AFIDOCS

The AFI DOCS Spotlight Screening of Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer’s riveting documentary, Check It, has sold out its advance ticket sales for its Saturday, June 25th, 9:00 P.M. show at the downtown, Washington, D.C., Newseum. However, there will be a standby line at the screening for any unclaimed seats.

Brief synopsis of Check It

In the heart of the nation’s capital, the Check It is a street gang comprised of gay and transgender teens who support each other in the face of outside bullying, attacks and discrimination. The group struggles with an existence underscored by violence, poverty and prostitution, but when a young mentor comes into their lives, he endeavors to help them find a more productive outlet: through the creative world of fashion. Finally faced with a better option, the Check It members must now attempt to beat the odds by getting off the street and working toward lives of purpose and accomplishment. — Chuck Willett

#AFIDOCS Interview: AFTER SPRING Directors Steph Ching and Ellen Martinez

AFTER SPRING looks at the brutal war in Syria, which has contributed to the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with nearly 60 million people fleeing the conflict. Many escape to Europe while others find themselves in limbo in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp — the largest such camp in the Middle East. Homesick yet haunted by the violence they’ve witnessed, they fear their children may become a “lost generation.” Many struggle with dwindling resources as others become entrepreneurs, finding creative ways to generate income in the camp, while awaiting a permanent home.

AFI spoke to the filmmakers ahead of the AFI DOCS premiere of AFTER SPRING, which is their first feature together. Head to the film’s website for more info.

What inspired you to tell this story?

Martinez: I went to high school in Damascus, Syria, and spent over eight years living in the Middle East. As the conflict in Syria escalated, I was extremely frustrated by how the media failed to talk to the Syrian people and show the human side of the story. Everything was so politicized while thousands of refugees were fleeing to neighboring countries. When an aid organization at the refugee camp Zaatari invited us to Jordan to film, we knew we had to figure out a way to go and help tell a different side to this story.

Ching: I always gravitated towards stories surrounding humanitarian issues but it wasn’t until I spent time at the camp that I began to understand how close this hit to my personal history. My grandma was a refugee in China at the end of World War II. She never liked to label herself as a refugee, and, to me, she was just Grandma, but I remember growing up with all of these stories of her “fleeing war” — the soldiers marching through her neighborhood, the few things she brought with her, the journey on the boat. And it wasn’t until I started hearing very similar stories from the people we met at Zaatari that I began to make this connection. And the fact that this story is representative of so many people’s histories, whether it is the current generation or from more than 70 years ago, is so powerful.

How did you find the subject(s) in your film?

We were so inspired by the people we met working and living at the camp — from the aid workers struggling tirelessly to keep the camp running, to the families who risked everything to get to the camp and are now trying to rebuild their lives as best they can.

What was a particular obstacle you faced while making the film?

Our film is mostly in Arabic and Korean. We do not speak either of those languages. Being able to put all our trust in our translators, making sure we got everything we needed on location, and then having to put it all together in the edit was a constant challenge. Overall, we had 24 translators contributing to the film. We didn’t want to rely on narration and felt it was important for the families to be able to share their own stories and experiences. This actually led to some of our favorite parts of the film, where the families share their home videos from their time back in Syria.

What do you want audiences to walk away with after screening your film?

We hope this movie will help people better understand what it means to be a refugee. The families in our film had happy, fulfilling lives back in Syria before they were forced to flee. No one chooses to become a refugee and we hope our documentary can help audiences put a human face to this issue that is so often generalized in the media. We hope it will inspire some of our audience to get involved with organizations doing work to help in this refugee crisis.

Why do you think Washington, DC, is a valuable location to screen your film?

Some members of Congress have sought to halt refugee admissions to Syrians and to date, the United States has only let in one fifth of its pledged number of 10,000 Syrian refugees for 2016. Being able to screen in Washington, DC, and to meet and invite decision-makers who are directly involved in policies related to resettlement and humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees has potential to influence real change.

AFTER SPRING plays AFI DOCS on Thursday, June 23, 1:00 p.m., and Friday, June 24, 4:15 p.m. Buy tickets here.

{Source: American Film Magazine (blog)May 25, 2016}


UPDATE: Bangladeshi adventurer/ activist #Wasfia Nazreen Shares Her Spiritual Journey

See the video here


(Excerpt from post by Mary Anne Potts of National Geographic Adventure on May 27, 2016)

Bangladeshi Climber Shares Her Spiritual Journey For The Women Of Her Country

Wasfia Nazreen‘s story will captivate you. We first came to know the Bangladeshi climber and activist when she was honored as one of our Nat Geo Adventurers of the Year for her quest to become the first person from her country to ascent the Seven Summits—and inspire the women and girls of her country to follow their own paths in life. Since climbing Carstenz Pyramid in 2015, her final of the seven summits, the newly named 2016 National Geographic Emerging Explorer has been hard at work on her forthcoming Ösel Foundation, which she describes as an “educational institute set in the outdoors, which integrates the latest scientific findings about development of the mind and combines it with mindfulness techniques and training in nature to empower adolescent girls.” A new film entitled Wasfia, which takes us along to see what motivates her to use mountains to strive for cultural change, will premiere this weekend at Mountainfilm in Telluride, Colorado. (See times and locations.)

(Photo by Pat Morrow)

We spoke to Nazreen about her life and the new film. Come back on Monday, May 30, when we will post the film exclusively on

I love when you say, “if anything natures conquers you,” in the new film about your life, Wasfia. When did you come to understand this?

I have been extremely blessed this lifetime to be introduced to nature and wildlife from very early on in my life–whether that was through upbringing near the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world or living in Chittagong in close proximity with the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Growing up in Bangladesh, I witnessed natural disasters as long as I can remember–hurricanes, floods, typhoons, cyclones–you name it. As a child, one of my earliest memories is, having to wade out of our living room in boats when the floods came every year. All the pets and animals that lived on our land, would be struggling to swim across with us–the dogs would eventually be rescued out of water, and so on. Abbu, my father was in shipping so we also got to witness the wrath of raging Bay of Bengal a lot as kids.

Even though all these experiences combined instilled the exposures required to realize firsthand who was the real boss–I think people in general in my region and culture, from time immemorial treated nature differently. For example the mountains are referred as gods and goddesses. So I always found it strange, when people so gallantly proclaim to have “conquered” an entire mountain, which is also a very patriarchal perspective if you think about it. Before summit bids on big mountains, the usual scene is that everyone’s praying and promising of things they’d do only if allowed for that one short window to open up just so we can stand on top in all her glory for a brief moment. Therefore, it’s really a process of surrendering to nature and then if it’s your time, she will most likely bless you.

To see this article in its entirety visit:

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Banned “Mor Thengari” Invited To Screen at Zanzibar #ZIFF

“Mor Thengari” translation “My Bicycle”, the first feature film entirely made in Chakma language has been invited to participate in this year’s Zanzibar International Film Festival to be held from July 9th through 17th in Zanzibar, Tanzania! Centered around the life of the indigenous people, the 63-minute-long independent film depicts exquisite beauty of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of southern Bangladesh. Ironically the film never got released in it’s native country due to censorship issues….. (Simee Adhikari)


Birth of a Blaxploitation

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song

The birth of Blaxploitation began with Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song, with initiating a new black identity and reached its zenith with Gordon Parks, Jr’s. Superfly.  In its purest form, blaxploitation gave these filmmakers voices to explore the prominent social and cultural issues and characteristics, including police brutality, prostitution, illegal drug distribution conspiracies and attempts by law enforcement officials to establish control and maintain order in large, inner-city, urban environments in their respective films, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song, and Superfly, while using creative license in themes, costumes, props and soundtracks to shape characters.

At their peak, exploitation films were dominated by American International Films and by hungry directors eager to exploit popular cultural and social trends often resulting from sensational news stories. Most scholars consider Roger Corman to be the father of the exploitation film. Corman came to light in particular with his early 1960 adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe tales. Audiences were hungry for these classic stories and Cormon capitalized with three successive films. Other examples of early exploitation films were Child Bride (1938), depicting older men marrying much younger women in the American Ozark Mountains and the classic Reefer Madness (1936) depicting the foibles of drug use, and Sex Madness (1938). Audiences ate these films up and box office revenues swelled. Shortly, thereafter, Orson Welles shocked the world with his radio show spoof, “War of the Worlds.” Soon, the advent and fascination with Space spawned a new style of the science fiction genre with the  “Flash Gordon” films and “Invaders from Mars.”

These films were cheaply made and had low production values. After the Paramount decision in 1948, the studios were looking for profits. As a result, the Grindhouse cinema emerged further exploiting audiences with biker films and beach films. Marlon Brando starred in the first widely released biker film, The Wild Ones (1953). A series of low budget motorcycle, hot rod and juvenile delinquent films followed in the remainder of the decade. Filmmakers engaging in making and producing exploitation films did so initially without the full support and  financial backing of the major film studios. However, if a director made a profit, the studio would support the next venture. (Hammond, 2006)


The 1960’s brought Corman and the production company American International into the mainstream exploitation film market. Most scholars consider Roger Corman to be the father of the exploitation film. Corman came to light in particular with his early 1960 adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe tales. Audiences were hungry for these classic stories and Cormon capitalized with three successive Poe adaptation films. American International profited on the conservative element of Hollywood with its beach party films showcasing the California Surf subculture with seven films between 1963 and 1966 despite the proliferating Civil Rights Movement.

As the political climate evolved and protests of the Vietnam War began so did the Black Power movement.  (Harpole, 2000) Black Power attempted to overcome the racial oppression experienced by African Americans and sought to nurture and establish an autonomous identity for African Americans. (Harris & Mushtaq, 2013) In 1971 Melvin Van Peebles wrote, directed and produced a landmark film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, sparking a new genre of blaxploitation films. (Christian, 2014) Usually set in large, urban areas the films had anti-establishment heroes and contained graphic sex, gratuitous violence and open drug use, blaxploitation films were generally action films made for black audiences with black actors in leading roles and more often than not were written, directed, produced and crewed by blacks. (Hammond, 2006)


Van Peebles funded Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song himself under the guise of making a pornographic film performing his own stunt scenes including the graphic sex scenes himself. He enticed the popular rock n’ roll band Earth, Wind and Fire to score the title track and released the soundtrack before the film to promote audience interest. The film’s questionable subject matter led to a minute two theater release.  For example, the opening scene depicts a female prostitute taking the boy’s virginity and while doing so calls out “Sweet Sweetback,” due to the boy’s penis size and sexual prowess. (Wikipedia, n.d.)

Technically, Van Peebles utilizes the jump cut effectively in providing visuals to support the film’s narrative with Sweetback quickly becoming an adult starring in live adult sex shows with gender identity issues. Also, Van Peebles is providing a sense of social commentary consistent with the political environment in 1970-71. In the film the police have decided to politicize the arranged arrest of a black male to appease the police captain’s constituents with the intention of releasing him for lack of evidence after a short questioning and holding period. However, the plan goes off kilter when the police team spot an intoxicated young Black Panther, arrest him and decide to brutally assault him in front of Sweetback. In disgust, Sweetback retaliates and savagely beats the officers to a pulp primarily with the aid of his handcuffs.

The remainder of the film is a visual adventure as Sweetback escapes to Mexico. Van Peebles montages have a powerful grindhouse effect. With Sweetback  on the run he interacts with Hells Angels, hippies and heavy industrial sites. (Craddock, 2009) Van Peebles dramatizes Sweetback’s escapes to the Mexico border with bloodhounds in hot pursuit of Sweetback’s scent. The film ends with large white titles declaring “WATCH OUT” followed by “A BAADASSSS NIGGER IS COMING BACK TO COLLECT SOME DUES…

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song grossed an estimated $10 million dollars. $10 million was quite a sum for 1971 and as a result, the studio responsible for epic films like Gone With The Wind, MGM, hired Gordon Parks, Sr., to direct Shaft, a black inner-city type of James Bond that navigates the black ghettos and the whites’ world, in hopes of capitalizing on the sprouting black audience box-office. The film was a hit grossing a quick $12 million and establishing a blueprint framework for blaxploitation films. The success of these two films got studio executives attention and took ahold of Hollywood’s purse as it “realized the power of the black ticket-buying public, which accounted for more than thirty percent of the box office in major cities and quickly seized upon the potential profitability of the new formula.” (Seperate Cinema, n.d.) The making of blaxploitation films proliferated in 1972 and by 1976 approximately 200 blaxploitation action films were made rehashing almost every conceivable genre story line and plot with almost all using the black versus white power dichotomy. (Seperate Cinema, n.d.)

What Van Peebles started with Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song, and with the methodology Gordon Parks, Sr., perfected, Gordon Parks, Jr. in Superfly, brought to fruition a new black anti-hero that not only stood up to “The Man,” but came out victorious.  Superfly tells the story of a young African-American adult male, Youngblood Priest, who wants to get out of the underground cocaine drug business. The character Priest is portrayed by a well-grounded, Shakespearean actor, Ron O’Neal. Throughout the film, Priest drives a customized Cadillac Eldorado, dresses in high fashion, is trained in the martial arts and keeps a beautiful woman in his neighborhood and in Uptown Manhattan.


The film opens with Priest being mugged by two junkies. Priest immediately thrashes the first junkie and chases down the second after an extended foot chase.  Parks, Jr., takes advantage of the scene to provide a rundown urban setting full of decay and despair. Parks Jr. continues to provide social and cultural artifacts as the narrative arc progresses. As Priest and his partner Eddie wait for a drug supplier they are approached by three black activists demanding monies for their Black Power activities on behalf of the black brethren. Priest refuses and the drug deal is made.

In another scene, Priest and Eddie consult with members of their organization as soul musician Curtis Mayfield performs “Pusher Man.” Mayfield’s soundtrack would eventually out gross the film and is regarded by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 100 greatest albums of all-time. The music of Curtis Mayfield and the music of Isaac Hayes in Shaft added an element of sophistication and depth to both of these Blaxploitation films. (Seperate Cinema, n.d.)

In the final scene of Superfly, Priest has the embodiment of a sophisticated, street-wise character as he is confronted by the Police Commissioner. The commissioner has murdered Priest’s friend, mentor and primary connection ordering a lethal heroin overdose injection. The commissioner belittles Priest telling Priest that “you just want to be another black junkie….and you’re going to work for me until I tell you to quit,” as he pokes Priest in the chest. Priest has taken a bump of cocaine while the commissioner talked. Parks, Jr., utilizes an extreme close up as Priest responds vehemently with, “You don’t own me Pig and no motherfucker tells me when I can split.” The commissioner, in disbelief, counters with “who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” The camera stays focused in a dirty single extreme close up of Priest. Priest appears confident and defiant as he comes back at the commissioner with, “I’m talking to you you redneck faggot.” At this point one of the commissioner’s goons strikes Priest knocking Priest into a garbage pile.

Priest recovers, regains his footing as the shot goes to slow motion with a non-diagetic musical score coupled with diagetic grunts and sound effects. Priest grabs a trash can lid and decimates the goons in a urban martial art alley free-for-all complete with Priest launching one goon head first into a nearby rubberized trash can. The camera, still in slow motion cuts to the commissioner brandishing a pistol ordering Priest “to freeze.” The camera pulls focus on the pistol.

This is a pivotal moment. In a typical analysis, the man with the gun has the power and it holds true here as well. However, Priest has contracted a mafia hit in the event he comes to an unlikely death. Unaware, the commissioner lambasts Priest as naïve and without the financial means to carry out a “for hire” contract hit. Unknowingly, the commissioner took possession of an identical suitcase containing dirty clothes to the one filled with money. Priest only moments earlier had passed the money filled briefcase to his girlfriend posing as a bag lady. Priest informs the commissioner he’s his own man, gets in his customized El Dorado and drives off while the commissioner dumps the briefcase and sees the dirty clothes he is left with.

Youngblood Priest provided black audiences with someone that they could relate to. Having been on the opposite end of the law for so long, audiences reveled in one of their own winning out against the man. Not all blacks, however, felt this new black identity was good. Pressure groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) felt the stereotypes featured were decidedly negative and took away from the advances made in forming positive role models in the black community. The genre had been so thoroughly exploited audience grew weary of the cheap film making with many of the same or similar story lines and plot characteristics. Consequently, blaxploitation films came to an abrupt end.


The legacy of the African-American films, however, remains positive. The assimilation of black culture into Hollywood continued in the 1980’s with the emergence of actor Eddie Murphy followed by present-day A-listers Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee and Mario Van Peebles, the son of Sweet Sweetback’s, Melvin Van Peebles. In retrospect, one can see over and over in the history of film a reflection of the social and cultural mores occurring at any point in time and space. (Seperate Cinema, n.d.)

And, Blaxploitation films are no different. As blacks emerged from the Civil Rights era and took hold of their citizenship, filmmakers, musicians and artists forged a new identity that reflected not only who they were but also their experiences that helped to define their blackness. The groundbreaking work of Melvin Van Peebles’, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song initiated a new identity in the character Sweetback while the work of Gordon Parks Jr., Superfly, and the character Youngblood Priest dramatized it to “a larger than life” embodiment solidifying a new black identity into the history of Hollywood filmmaking.



Works Cited

Christian, M. (2014). Can You Dig It? Ebony, 116-134.

Craddock, J. ( 2009). Superfly Film Review . VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever , 967.

Hammond, M. a. (2006). Contemporary American Cinema . England: McGraw-Hill.

Harpole, C. (2000). Lost Illusions : American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970-79 . New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Harris, A., & Mushtaq, O. (2013). Creating Racial Identities Through Film: A Queer and Gendered Analysis of Blaxploitation Films. Western Journal of Black Studies, 28-38.

Seperate Cinema. (n.d.). Retrieved from Seperate Cinema:

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia:’s_Baadasssss_Song



Mark Wahlberg Bringing ‘Deepwater Horizon’ to Big Screen

From ABC News:

Mark Wahlberg is bringing the real-life disaster story of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion to life on the big screen.

Good Morning America” debuted the new trailer for the film, “Deepwater Horizon,” which features the stories of those who worked on the BP rig during its harrowing final hours. The April 2010 explosion killed 11 people and triggered the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

Wahlberg stars as Mike Williams, an electrician who escaped from the burning rig. He’s joined by an impressive cast: Dylan O’Brien as floorhand Caleb Holloway; Gina Rodriguez as young crew member Andrea Fleytas; Kurt Russell as crew member Jimmy Harrell; and John Malkovich as BP representative Donald Vidrine.

“Deepwater Horizon,” hits theaters Sept. 30, 2016. Watch the trailer above and see the exclusive dramatic character posters below.

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Ken Loach wins Palme d’Or at Cannes for “I, Daniel Blake.”

May. 22, 2016

Veteran British director Ken Loach won his second Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival Sunday for I, Daniel Blake — a stark portrayal of a disabled man’s struggle with the crushing benefits system in northern England.

The 79-year-old was presented the festival’s top prize by actor Mel Gibson at a ceremony on the French Riviera. Accepting the award, the silver-haired Loach punched his fists in the air in victory and said that he hoped his gritty, social realist movie would hold a mirror up to the impact of Europe’s policies of austerity on the poorest in society.

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Director Ken Loach, centre, actor Mel Gibson, left and President of the Jury George Miller react after Roach is awarded the Palme d’or for the film I, Daniel Blake, during the awards ceremony at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

“We must give a message of hope, we must say another world is possible,” he said.

I, Daniel Blake chronicles a middle-aged widower from Newcastle who, after a heart attack, can neither work nor get government aid. It follows the sometimes comic, frequently painful frustrations as he winds his way through an archaic system that seems designed to bring him down.

Like many of Loach’s films, social politics is at the heart of I, Daniel Blake — which many critics have predicted could be his last.

“There is a conscious cruelty in the way that we are organizing our lives now, where the most vulnerable people are told that their poverty is their own fault,” Loach told reporters. “If you have no work it’s your fault you haven’t got a job. Never mind in Britain, there is mass unemployment throughout Europe.”

Loach has long brought his distinct portrayals of the British working class to Cannes — and is more a regular at Cannes than almost any filmmaker. He has had 12 films in competition at the festival over the years, including his Palme d’Or-winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

Canadian director Xavier Dolan picked up the runner-up Grand Prize, which has been seen by some critics as a vindication for him personally after his film, It’s Only The End Of The World, garnered lukewarm reviews and triggered a spat between him and certain film critics. The 27-year-old won the jury prize in 2014 for Mommy.
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Director Xavier Dolan poses for photographers with his Grand Prix prize for the film, Juste La Fin du Monde (It’s Only The End OF the World), during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

The jury of the 69th Cannes Film Festival was headed by Australian director George Miller who described the jury’s selection as “two words: rigorous and happy.”

The Cannes jury’s decisions are famously unpredictable, and take place behind doors closed to the press for the duration of the May 11-22 festival.

Despite mixed reviews, director Asghar Farhadi’s film, The Salesman, picked up several awards including best screenplay and best actor for Shahab Hosseini.

Romanian director Cristian Mungui, who was a favorite to win the Palme d’Or for Graduation, won the best director award, which he shared with French director Olivier Assayas for his paranormal thriller, Personal Shopper, starring former Twilight star Kristen Stewart.

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Director Olivier Assayas poses for photographers after receiving the Best Director award for the film Personal Shopper, during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

(Source: AP mobile website –