Director Ken Loach turns down Turin Film Festival award

Gesture is act of solidarity with fired film museum workers

Director Ken Loach turns down Turin Film Festival award

Rome, November 21 - British film director Ken Loach on Wednesday declined an award from the Turin Film Festival in a gesture of solidarity with workers at the city's film museum whose jobs were outsourced when they refused to accept salary cuts. In a letter written to the festival's organizers, Loach said he could not accept the award because he disagreed with the practice of "outsourcing services done by workers with the lowest salaries". In the letter to festival organizers, who had awarded Loach the Gran Torino Prize, the director wrote: "It is with great sorrow that I find myself forced to refuse the prize which has been awarded by the Turin Film Festival, a prize which I would have been very happy to accept, for me and for all those who have worked on our films". Loach explained that the "recipe" whereby the lowest-paid services are outsourced to save money, which often leads bidding companies to cut costs and fire employees, "is a recipe destined to generate conflict". In Turin, the company that runs the city's film museum recently outsourced security and cleaning services. Some employees of the film museum subsequently lost their jobs and those with the lowest salaries were fired after refusing to accept salary cuts. Loach said he expected that, in this case, "the museum would dialogue with the workers and their unions, guarantee the re-hiring of the fired employees and rethink its outsourcing strategy". "We made a film on this very topic, Bread and Roses," Loach said. "How could I not respond to a request for solidarity from the workers who were fired after having fought for their rights? Having accepted the award and limited myself to a few critical remarks would have been weak and hypocritical behavior".

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