EU's caused hardship for millions, says Palme D'Or winner Ken Loach
Ken Loach has said the European Union has caused "hardship and poverty for millions of people" as he won the prestigious Palme D'Or for the second time at the Cannes Film Festival.
The 79-year-old British director and veteran left-wing activist took the top accolade for his latest film I, Daniel Blake - the story of a former Newcastle joiner who struggles in the welfare system after becoming ill.
Ken was asked if he saw his film as an indictment of the EU and he told a press conference: "I think the European Union is embodying neo-liberalism. You see it in the way they humiliated the Greek people.
"It has caused hardship and poverty for millions of people and a great struggle for a lot of other people who are not desperate but they are having a hard time.
"So you just tell one little story, one of the consequences of the many millions of people, tell one little story, and you just hope it connects, it connects to people."
Presenting his film earlier this month at the international film festival, the filmmaker voiced hesitant support for the UK to remain in the EU, saying: "The EU, as it stands, is a neo-liberal project. How do we fight it best, within or without?
"On balance, I think we fight it better within and we make alliances with other European left movements. But it's a dangerous, dangerous moment."
Ken has had 12 films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival through his long career, including The Wind That Shakes The Barley, which took the Palme D'Or in 2006.
Reflecting on the fact he has won the prestigious prize for a second time, he said it was "extraordinary" because it was "the same little gang" from 2006.
"It's just nice to be in that team. Our breath has been taken away, I have to say, because we weren't really expecting to come back. So we are quietly stunned," he said.
Ken, whose past classics include 1969´s Kes, was up against a host of international stars for the prize including Spanish Oscar-winner Pedro Almodovar, Sean Penn and Paul Verhoeven.
The film tells the story of the eponymous Daniel Blake, who, after having a heart attack, crosses paths with single mother of two Katie, who moves to Newcastle from London, 300 miles away.
The Cannes website said the characters "find themselves in no-man's land caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of 'striver and skiver' in modern day Britain".
Ken founded far-left political party Left Unity in 2013 in an attempt to replace the Labour Party and challenge its "neo-liberalism".
Asked about his plans for the future, he gave nothing away, telling the press conference: "When you get very old you're just pleased to see the sunrise the next day, so we'll just take each day as it comes."
He was not the only British winner at Cannes - Andrea Arnold's road movie American Honey, starring Shia LaBeouf, won the Prix du Jury (Jury Prize).