Film shot in Jarrow timber yard takes top award at Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach collects the award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Ken Loach collects the award at the Cannes Film Festival.

A film shot in Jarrow has claimed the prestigious Palme D'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Ken Loach set scenes of I, Daniel Blake in a timber yard, with MH Southern, on Church Bank, used as the backdrop and some of the firm's staff drafted in as extras and given lines.

Timber yard MH Southern and staff, from left, Graham Bird, Michael Anderson, Chris Lagan and Bryan Horn.

Timber yard MH Southern and staff, from left, Graham Bird, Michael Anderson, Chris Lagan and Bryan Horn.

The film has won acclaim after it was screened at Cannes, with Loach presented with the award for the second time in his career.

The 79-year-old has hit the headlines after stating he believes the European Union has caused "hardship and poverty for millions of people" as he collected the title.

In the film, the British director and veteran left-wing activist tells the story of a former joiner from Newcastle who struggles in the welfare system after becoming ill.

Loach has had 12 films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, including The Wind That Shakes The Barley, which took the Palme D'Or in 2006.

Scenes were set in the Jarrow yard of MH Southern.

Scenes were set in the Jarrow yard of MH Southern.

Reflecting on the fact he has won the prestigious prize for a second time, Loach said it was "extraordinary" because it was "the same little gang" from 2006.

"It's just nice to be in that team. Our breath has been taken away, I have to say, because we weren't really expecting to come back. So we are quietly stunned," he said.

Loach, whose past classics include 1969's Kes, was up against a host of international stars for the prize including Spanish Oscar-winner Pedro Almodovar, Sean Penn and Paul Verhoeven.

The film tells the story of the eponymous Daniel Blake, who, after having a heart attack, crosses paths with single mother of two Katie, who moves to Newcastle from London, 300 miles away.

The Cannes website said the characters "find themselves in no-man's land caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of 'striver and skiver' in modern day Britain".

Loach founded far-left political party Left Unity in 2013 in an attempt to replace the Labour Party and challenge its "neo-liberalism".

Asked about his plans for the future, Loach told a press conference: "When you get very old you're just pleased to see the sunrise the next day, so we'll just take each day as it comes."