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Last Minute Loach: Cannes Adds Route Irish

Cannes have announced the 19th film to be part of the Main Competition category – a picture that I had pegged for competition and that as of last week was still in post production. Here is the complete synopsis (a fairly full one if I do say so myself) for Ken Loach’s Route Irish.

Cannes have announced the 19th film to be part of the Main Competition category – a picture that I had pegged for competition and that as of last week was still in post production. Here is the complete synopsis (a fairly full one if I do say so myself) for Ken Loach’s Route Irish.

At 4pm on the 12th of September 2001, (the day following the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York) the National Security Council was reconvened. Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of State for Defence, raised a question: “Why shouldn’t we go against Iraq, not just Al Qaeda?”
2006. Baghdad is the most dangerous city in the world, and the most dangerous road in this city, between Baghdad airport and the Green Zone, is nicknamed Route Irish by occupying forces.
Liverpool, August 1976. Five-year-old Fergus’ eyes lit up when he met Frankie on his first day at school. They’ve been in each other’s shadow ever since.
In the spring of 1986 as teenagers they skipped school and drank cider on the ferry over the river Mersey, dreaming about future adventures and travelling the world.

In September 2004, Fergus (ex-SAS) persuaded Frankie (ex-Para) to join his team in Iraq and earn £12,000 a month tax free as a private security contractor. Their last chance to “load up” in this increasingly privatised war. Together they risked their lives in a city steeped in violence, terror, impunity, greed, and awash with cash – US dollars, by the billion.
In March 2006, Frankie, “in the wrong place at the wrong time”, died on Route Irish. Fergus, torn by grief, rejects the official explanation. Now he investigates his soul mate’s death in his own special way, as lessons from Iraq unravel in Liverpool. Only Rachel, Frankie’s partner, and Fergus’ friend, grasps the depth of his sorrow, and the lethal possibilities of his fury. Can Fergus find out what happened to Frankie on Route Irish?
But there’s a much more critical task ahead of him. Can he find his old self again, and that sense of joie de vivre he once shared with Frankie 20 years ago on the River Mersey? You can take the contractor out of war, but can you take the war out of the man?

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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