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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Loach leads way in Cannes
Bread & Roses director Loach
Bread & Roses director Loach is the only British entry on the Palme d'Or shortlist
After the sumptuous costume drama Vatel opened proceedings, Cannes has got down to the nitty-gritty with British director Ken Loach's movie Bread & Roses.

Loach is best-known for his uncompromising portrayals of British life with films such as Kes, Raining Stones and My Name Is Joe.

His Palme d'Or entry - the only British film of the 23 shortlisted - is characteristically hard-hitting, but this time Loach has chosen Los Angeles as his backdrop.

Vatel with Uma Thurman and Tim Roth
Vatel with Uma Thurman and Tim Roth opened the festival

Bread & Roses, showing throughout Thursday, is the story of a strike among Mexican illegal immigrant office cleaners.

Toiling through the night for a pittance, no job security and an abusive boss, the workers take steps to bring in a union, while hanging on to their jobs.

In the midst of the turmoil is Maya, a young woman from Tijuana who leads a guerrilla campaign against her employers - putting her family and livelihood at risk.

Star turns

Things don't get any more uplifting elsewhere on the first day's programme. The three other films on show tackle topics such as loneliness, depression and prostitution.

Competing for the Caméra d'Or in the festival category Un Certain Regard - the non-competitive section of the official selection - comes Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her.

Glenn Close
Glenn Close stars in Rodrigo Garcia's analytical debut movie

It is a tale of five separate women fighting to overcome feelings of isolation, although their worlds are strangely intertwined.

The film is the debut project of Spaniard Rodrigo Garcia, son of Nobel prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and features high profile Hollywood names.

Glenn Close is a gynaecologist living with an ailing mother, while Holly Hunter is a bank director facing an unwanted pregnancy.

Ally McBeal actress Calista Flockhart plays a lesbian caring for her dying lover, and Kathy Baker is the divorced mother of a 15-year-old boy who becomes attracted to a dwarf.

Cultural identity

Other big names putting in appearances, on and off-screen, are former Oscar winners Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman.

They star in Under Suspicion, which will be shown out of competition at a midnight screening.

Sergi Lopez
Sergi Lopez stars as the obliging Harry

Hackman plays a rich lawyer caught in a tense battle of wits with a police officer - played by Freeman - who suspects him of having murdered a young girl.

Also on Thursday's programme is the official screening of French Palme D'Or competitor Harry, Un Ami Qui Vous Veut Du Bien, by Dominik Moll.

It centres on Michel and Claire, a couple facing a tough holiday with their three daughters when out of the blue comes Harry - a man who will stop at nothing to make Michel happy.

Jacky, also competing for the Caméra d'Or, is a joint Dutch and Chinese collaboration between Brat Ljatifi and Fow Pyng Hu.

The movie focuses on a young Chinese man, Jacky, growing up in Amsterdam and struggling to find his cultural identity.

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See also:

10 May 00 | Entertainment
Rainswept glamour at Cannes
11 May 00 | Entertainment
Gallery: Film festival opens
10 May 00 | Entertainment
Film world flocks to Cannes
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