A clamorous gesture has cast a shadow over the upcoming Turin Film Festival.
Vittoria Scarpa

23 Nov 2012 - 8:01 AM  UPDATED 23 Nov 2012 - 8:01 AM

A clamorous gesture has cast a shadow over the upcoming Turin Film Festival (23 November - 1 December). British film director Ken Loach has announced he would be turning down the Gran Premio Torino, an award given out to the most innovating of filmmakers. He was set to receive this year's prize together with Ettore Scola.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Loach, who has always supported workers' rights, explained he supported workers from the Italian National Museum of Cinema (directed by Alberto Barbera) who first underwent “dismissals of people” followed by “the subcontracting of services towards less paid workers.”

“It is with great regret that I am compelled to refuse the prize which was assigned to me by the Turin Film Festival," the statement reads. “In Turin, cleaning and security services were subcontracted outside of the National Museum of Cinema. After a salary cut, workers denounced the use of intimidation and mistreatment. Some people were fired.”

“We made a film precisely on this topic, Bread and Roses,” the director added in his letter. “How could I not respond to such a request for solidarity towards the workers who were fired for fighting for their rights?”

The response from the National Museum of Cinema did not take long to come. “We are sorry to see that a great director we have always admired was misinformed. […] The museum cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of third parties and is in no place to intervene in the relationship between members of an external cooperative and its own company.”

While expressing solidarity with the agitated workers, Ettore Scola decided to accept the prize. “A group of workers wrote to me, asking me to support their protest by turning the award down. I answered that even if I understood their plight, I did not think it was right to refuse the honour, as it would have seemed like an inappropriate refusal towards the Turin Film Festival and its director Gianni Amelio and it would have hardly been useful to their cause. […] The workers actually apologised to me, acknowledging their request had been inappropriate.”

Translated from Italian

Read more exclusive contents on cineuropa.org.