Ken Loach Pulls Out of Turin Film Festival

Scandal and Controversy at Italian Film Festivals
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When auteur filmmaker Ken Loach in November pulled out of the Turin Film festival in protest of a labor dispute at Turin’s National Film Museum, the festival’s parent organization, the affair made headlines. After all, he was supposed to receive one of lifetime achievement honors. The drama came after Italian media charged the Rome Film Festival with unfairly favoring films made with local support. Five of its awards this year went to Italian movies produced with support from the regional entity that supported artistic director Marco Mueller. His first year in charge also drew media criticism for dates that were pushed back to November, the festival's ticket price plan, the quality of films and the relative lack of big-name stars.

The director was supposed to receive a lifetime achievement award at the event, with Ettore Scola, the other honoree, still set to appear as scheduled.

ROME – Director Ken Loach, who had been scheduled to receive the Turin Film Festival’s Gran Premio Torino lifetime achievement honor, has canceled his plans to attend the event, organizers announced Wednesday.

The reasons for Loach’s withdrawal were not revealed, but the festival said it would also cancel plans to screen The Angels’ Share, Loach’s critically acclaimed drama about a group of men's plan to steal whiskey from a distillery. It won the Jury Prize in Cannes and most recently took home two Scottish BAFTA prizes.

The replacement film will be announced shortly, officials said, and ticket holders will be reimbursed for their purchase.

Italian director Ettore Scola, the other Gran Premio Torino honoree, will be on hand for the honor as planned, organizers said.

The 30th edition of the festival gets underway Friday with a screening of Quartet, Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut. It will also feature other out-of-competition screenings, including Joe Wright’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel Anna Karenina, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ romantic comedy Ruby Sparks, and The Sessions, a story about a man on an iron lung looking to lose his virginity, from Ben Lewin.

The event also features a 16-film in-competition lineup of first and second films.

The festival, the last under the artistic leadership of Italian film director Gianni Amelio, concludes Dec. 1.