Berlin film festival to honour Ken Loach

BERLIN - The 64th Berlin film festival in February will award veteran British director Ken Loach an honorary Golden Bear prize for lifetime achievement and present a retrospective of his work, organisers said Friday.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick said the event would pay tribute to Loach's brand of humanist cinema portraying the lives of working-class Britons and his outspoken political engagement.

"Ken Loach is one of Europe's great directors. Over his almost 50-year career, he has shown an extraordinary degree of continuity, while remaining innovative at all times," Kosslick said in a statement.

"His profound interest in people and their individual fates, as well as his critical commitment to society, have found expression in a variety of cinematic approaches. We are honouring Ken Loach as a director and greatly admire him for how he reflects on social injustices with humour in his films."

The retrospective will feature 10 Loach pictures including his 1966 docu-drama "Cathy Come Home", 2002 drug-trade expose "Sweet Sixteen", and 2009's "Looking for Eric" with former French football star Eric Cantona.

Loach, 77, is well-known for his social activism and films about labour disputes, often casting non-professional actors in stories of grassroots struggle.

He won the Palme d'Or top prize at Cannes in 2006 for "The Wind That Shakes The Barley", set during the Irish war of independence and its ensuing civil war.

The Berlin film festival, Europe's first major cinema showcase of the year, will be held February 6-16 and open with the world premiere of Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel".