- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cannes winner

British director Ken Loach yesterday won the Cannes film festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, for his movie “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” which recounts Ireland’s early struggle for independence.

Mr. Loach, who turns 70 next month, has described the film as also being a critique of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, with guerrillas seeking to oust an occupying military force.

The Cannes award represented a triumph that has been a long time coming for Mr. Loach. Seven of his previous films had been nominated for the Palme d’Or, but he had never won the award.

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley” beat 19 other films to snatch the Cannes prize, including critical favorites “Volver” by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and “Babel” by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

This year’s festival jury was headed by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai and included actresses Monica Bellucci, Helena Bonham Carter and Zhang Ziyi, and actors Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth.

In an interview given to Agence France-Presse early on in the festival, Mr. Loach said his film, about Ireland’s 1920s struggle to throw off the yoke of British colonialism, was “the story of an army of occupation against the wishes of the people, and obviously there are many contemporary references to that.”

It tells the tale of two brothers who join a ragtag band of resistance fighters battling the British in often-brutal detail.

Mr. Loach said the very nature of an occupying force is one of violence and oppression, and drew parallels with what is happening in Iraq.

Peanut problems

An animal rights activist who was the voice of “Lucy” in several “Peanuts” television specials, was convicted in Los Angeles Thursday of illegally demonstrating outside the home of a city animal services employee.

Pamelyn Ferdin, who as a child also appeared on “The Odd Couple” and “The Brady Bunch,” and her husband, Jerry Vlasak, each were convicted on misdemeanor counts of trespassing and targeted demonstration.

A city ordinance prohibits a demonstration from occurring within 100 feet of a person’s residence.

“Free speech is a right, one of the most treasured rights this country has to offer,” said City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. “But as the verdict in this case shows, there are limits to the exercise of that right.”

The conviction results from an incident in June 2004 when Miss Ferdin, 48, and Mr. Vlasak, 49, handed out leaflets critical of city animal shelters outside the home of David Diliberto, director of field operations for the city’s Department of Animal Services. The couple also went to Mr. Diliberto’s door.

Miss Ferdin said she would continue pressing the city to improve its shelters and would appeal her conviction.

“It’s a real sad time in our history,” she said, comparing her conviction to anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 22.

Poet feted

A New York party for author Toni Morrison drew personalities including former President Bill Clinton and actor Morgan Freeman as well as officials and students from Princeton University, where she taught for 17 years before announcing her retirement this spring.

Miss Morrison, 75, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her 1987 book “Beloved,” which told the story of a former slave haunted by the ghost of her murdered child, began her career at Princeton in 1989.

During the Friday ceremony at the Time Warner Center, which was planned before her announcement but at times felt like a retirement party, Miss Morrison was honored and praised for her literary contributions.

“You can be laughing or crying, mad or happy, full of pride or covered in shame,” Mr. Clinton, who Miss Morrison once called America’s “first black president,” told the crowd about Miss Morrison’s works, the Star-Ledger of Newark reported in Saturday’s editions.

Miss Morrison, an Ohio native who was born Chloe Anthony Wofford, began writing in 1970. She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993. Some of her other works, including “Jazz,” “Song of Solomon,” and “The Bluest Eye” have won her worldwide acclaim.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee from wire reports.

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