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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Loach's Cannes call for immigrants
Ken Loach with Ephida Carrillo and Pilar Padilla
Ken Loach with Ephida Carrillo and Pilar Padilla
Director Ken Loach has called for better treatment of asylum seekers at the launch of his new film in Cannes.

The film-maker is in France to promote Bread & Roses, which tells the story of exploited Mexican immigrants working in California.

At a press conference, he said: "We have to keep reminding ourselves that people are immigrants for a reason.

"In Europe, we have an absolute obligation to recognise why people are over here as immigrants."

'There should be solidarity'


Ken Loach
Loach directed the ground-breaking 1960s TV play Cathy Come Home

Loach, 63, who is best known for films such as My Name Is Joe, Riff-Raff and Kes, added: "If we realised what there would have to be to make us leave our homes, we may begin to realise there should be solidarity with immigrants."

He said most of those who fled their home countries had been forced to by events beyond their control.

Bread & Roses, the UK's only Palme d'Or entry, follows two Mexican sisters, Rosa and Maya, who mount a guerilla campaign against their employers.

Loach was joined by the film's two stars, Elphida Carrillo and Pilar Padilla and the film's writer, Paul Laverty.

Carillo, who plays Rosa, said she had to emigrate from Mexico with her 10 siblings after the death of her father.

She hopes the film will also help Latin actors get roles other than those as "maids" and "prostitutes".

Criticising goverments

"Glenn Close, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons played Latinos in House of the Spirits, which I thought was insulting," she said.

"We want to go to the movies and see something about us, about who we are."

Ken Loach - a long-time Labour Party supporter - also used the conference to criticise governments around the world, whom he said were undermining humanitarian achievements such as fair wages and workers' rights.

"We've had right-wing governments and we've had governments that claim to be on the left but actually continue the policies of the right-wing governments," he explained.

"The rights we've fought for for several generations are in danger of being eroded in favour of so-called progress, and the people masterminding the changes are people who got to power on the backs of the workers' movements."

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