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Ken Loach hoping to score second Palme d'Or

Razia Iqbal | 15:07 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

loach_afp300.jpgFootballers and film festivals may not seem like obvious bedfellows. But in the last few years I've been coming to Cannes, there seems to be at least one major footballing legend here promoting themselves or their movies.

In recent years, there have been films about Maradona, Zidane and Pele. This year sees Eric Cantona playing himself in a surreal comedy about life, love and Eric, directed by that Cannes favourite, and former Palme D'Or winner, Ken Loach.

From the man best known for his gritty, social realism, Looking for Eric is more magical realism. A Manchester postman, Eric, played by Steve Evets, is at his wits' end and tries to kill himself.

A little recreational drug use prompts a vision of Eric Cantona, little Eric's hero. Cantona dispenses his usual laconic aphorisms and is very comfortable in a self-mocking role. At one point, he says: "I am not a man, I am Cantona."

I asked him about the mythology surrounding him and he just bats it away, clearly delighted that he is sitting next to Ken Loach.

For his part, Loach manages to find politics even in this highly entertaining comedy. He told me that a central scene in which little Eric and his mates take on some pretty scary local thugs, is an illustration that the Thatcherism that there is no such thing as society has now shifted. That people are prepared to do things for each other.

Film-making itself feels like a political act when you are Ken Loach. He is clearly delighted to be in competition once more and with Eric Cantona playing lui meme, he may have found his breakthrough movie.


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