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In competition: "Looking for Eric" by Ken Loach

About the film:
The Cannes Film Festival loves football… One year after having Maradona on the Croisette for the Out-of-Competition documentary, Maradona by Kusturica, the Festival clearly shows its love of soccer by including a film featuring another legend, Eric Cantona in the company of the director, Ken Loach with the Competition feature Looking for Eric. Other cast member Steve Evets plays the postman from Manchester whose life is in upheaval, and who attempts to ward off the worst by calling out to his idol, King Cantona, the only one who could possibly help him.

Why Cantona? The Palme d’Or winner in 2006 for the Wind that Shakes the Barley, replies, "He's original and bright and sharp and perceptive. He thinks a little outside the game and his jousts with journalists were always funny and witty. As we talked to him, his thoughts on the game and on his place in it and what he tried to do and how he approached it all became part of the project. When Eric walks in a room you really know he's there. It's true of very few people but he's a man with considerable charisma and a magnetism. Actors talk about natural projection, in that you can communicate from the stage to the back of the auditorium without apparently doing anything. Eric did that on a football field – he communicated to 70,000 people. That's an extraordinary natural ability."

Press conference:
Corresponding with the Competition screening of Looking For Eric, director Ken Loach and actor Eric Cantona were present to answer questions from the journalists. Highlights follow.

Ken Loach on if he was compelled to make a comedy:
"We thought it might be nice to do a film with smiles on our faces. You could say that a comedy is a tragedy with a happy ending. We felt that what we had to do was to play the story with truth. And I think that was a tribute to the actors we worked with. They played it with truth and sometimes that’s funny and sometimes that’s sad. But if you play the truth then that’s OK..."

Eric Cantona on playing himself in the film:
"Some say it’s not easy to play oneself… This is fiction with a screenplay beautifully written by Paul Laverty. You also have to remain natural and spontaneous… I felt there was always quite a lot of pressure before the shooting and I hadn’t experienced that pressure when working on another character. I talked things over at length with Ken; I asked myself a lot of questions. I thought it was important to build up my trust, to find pleasure during the shooting…I had to get to that point through different pathways."

Ken Loach on soccer:
"It does have a function in one or two aspects; it does bring people together. A team is the representation of a community. I think it’s probably the only occasion when it’s permissible to be nationalistic, the few hours when your national team is playing. Apart from that, nationalism is not a terribly attractive thing politically. I think also it’s a time when people let their feelings be expressed…But at a game you go from despair to hope, triumph, to sadness, to elation in an hour and three-quarters. I mean if a film could achieve that, it would be some film."

Eric Cantona on how Sir Alex Ferguson compares to Ken Loach:
"They’re very similar, these two activities that are totally different, but the way they go about getting 100% out of these actors or out of the players is very similar. The great difficulty is to be good from match to match, film to film… And if both Ferguson and Ken Loach are here, it’s because they’re very humble as well…They are two people who really get me to give every bit of myself. Alex Ferguson before being a great coach and Ken Loach before being a great director are just wonderful people and that is an essential quality for me."

 

Trailer Looking for Eric

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