The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is pleased to announce that legendary British filmmaker Ken Loach has been named its 2020 Honoree for Sustained Excellence in Narrative Feature Filmmaking, celebrating Mr. Loach’s courage in making films that go beyond the surface to capture complex and unguarded moments of lived experience and social engagement.
As part of its program at MNFF6: ONLINE, the Festival will screen two of Mr. Loach’s films, his most recent picture, Sorry We Missed You (2019), that tells the story of a British gig economy delivery driver who faces impossible complications to his work, and The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) that stunningly depicts two brothers in conflict during the political struggles in Ireland in the 1920s. The film set and continues to hold the record as the highest grossing Irish-made independent film upon its release. Loach will also be the guest of Jay Craven, MNFF Artistic Director, in an extensive recorded Q&A at the Festival.
Mr. Loach has amassed fifty-five directing credits over the course of his stellar career, among them I, Daniel Blake, Land and Freedom, Kes, Raining Stones, Bread and Roses, Carla’s Song, Sweet Sixteen and My Name is Joe. He is known for a social realist style that explores the personal impact of working class characters caught in complex dynamics with authorities at work or in government. He argues that working peoples’ lives are inherently dramatic – and cites three films he saw, early on, that influenced him: Vittorio de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, Milos Foreman’s Loves of a Blonde and Gilo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers.
In addition, Mr. Loach has seen an astonishing thirteen of his films play at the Cannes International Festival of Film (a record number), where he has won 16 awards including the prestigious Palm d’Or twice. He has also won eight Berlin International Film Festival honors, three French Cesars and three British Academy Awards. In 1977, Loach turned down Queen Elizabeth’s invitation to be knighted as an Officer of the British Empire (OBE), saying he did “not want to join when you look at the villains who’ve gotten it.”
“We are thrilled to be honoring Ken Loach at this year’s online festival,” said MNFF artistic director, Jay Craven. “He is widely recognized as one of the world’s great directors – and is especially deft at rendering complex and compassionate portrayals of ordinary people facing stiff odds in everyday life and work. His newest film, Sorry We Missed You, is especially resonant, during the current pandemic, for its examination of the impossible pressures of “essential workers” up against deadlines and clock watchers.”
MNFF6: ONLINE will be held August 27-September 3 on mobile phones, laptops, iPads and big screen televisions connected to Apple TV and Roku boxes. Descriptions of all the films will be released on the Festival’s website, middfilmfest.org, on August 1. Festival Passes will go on sale August 1 and Individual Tickets are slated to go on sale August 10, both at middfilmfest.org. Updates will be published in the MNFF e-newsletter [sign up at https://middfilmfest.org/updates/] and on the Festival’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages in the weeks ahead.
In staging this online version of its 6th Annual event, the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival continues its steadfast support and promotion of first and second-time filmmakers – and recognizes leaders in cinema who have broken ground in writing, directing, performance and the areas of cinema craft, including costume design, production design and cinematography, that combine to create polished and resonant work.