cannes film festival.jpg
Photograph: EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

Veteran British director Ken Loach called Friday on Britain to remain in the Europe Union, straying into political territory at a Cannes Film Festival conference marking the premier of his new movie.

He said remaining in the 28-member blos would allow British people to fight Brussels' anti-worker policies and backed the creation of a new European left alliance to support the interests of ordinary people.

Britain's June 23 referendum on EU membership was "a dangerous moment" for his nation, Loach told the press at an event showcasing his hard-hitting drama about two people battling the nightmare of Britain’s health service.

The 79-year-old left-wing filmmaker lashed out at what he described as the EU's neo-liberal policies of privatization, the bloc's assault on workers' standards, its fiscal austerity along with its plans for a free trade deal with the United States.

"On balance we should fight from within to change things," said Loach, warning that exiting the EU could lead to the formation of a right-wing government in Britain that would implement even tougher policies than Brussels.

In an unusually political press conference for Cannes, Loach went on to call for political activists in nations such as France, Spain and Greece to forge a new European-wide left-wing movement to serve the interests of ordinary people rather than big business.

"We need a Europe-wide movement that rescues people like Dan and Katie," said Loach referring to the two main characters in his film, I, Daniel Blake.

Compared to some of Loach's more recent lighter offerings, such as Angel's Share and Jimmy Hall, I, Daniel Blake marks a return to his more emotionally charged social commentaries, such as his groundbreaking 1960's docu-drama Cathy Come Home about a couple plunged into homelessness.

I, Daniel Blake was a film "to say what things are like," said Loach, "but it should not only break your heart but make you angry."

Cannes has had a long love affair with Loach whose hallmark through a more than 50-year moviemaking career has been social realism. He has now made more than 20 films.

I, Daniel Blake is his 13th entry in Cannes' main competition and is one of 21 films competing for the festival's top honours, the Palme d'Or for best picture.

In I, Daniel Blake, Loach teams up again with screenwriter Paul Laverty who also wrote Loach's 2006 Palme d'Or winner, the war drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

Two years ago it looked like Loach might be planning to retire from filmmaking after his long-standing producer Rebecca O'Brien said that he was considering bowing out of directing following his 2014 Cannes' entry Jimmy Hall.

Loach would not be drawn on Friday about his retirement plans. But Dave Johns, who played Daniel Blake in the film, seemed to answer for him: "He will be making films for ever and ever."

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