Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O’Donoghue tonight hailed the Irish civil war film which scooped the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival as a masterpiece.
The Wind that Shakes the Barley, which stars Cork actor Cillian Murphy, was awarded the Palme d’Or.
Mr O’Donoghue, who attend the film’s premiere at the festival, congratulated British director Ken Loach on winning the award.
“The film is a tremendous production that powerfully portrays the War of Independence and the Civil War,” said Mr O’Donoghue.
“Ken Loach handles this difficult and painful period of our history with characteristic genius and well deserves the Palme d’Or for this masterpiece.”
It was the first time that Loach had won the prize, after seven previous nominations.
The film, which tells the story of two Irish brothers who fight in the War of Independence and then the civil war, was shot in Cork last year with an almost entirely local cast.
Mr O’Donoghue praised the calibre of the Irish stars of the film.
“Their work showed dedication, artistic insight and passion.”
He added that the Palme d’Or award meant that the film’s success nationally and internationally was now guaranteed.
“This is a terrific day for the Irish film industry and will no doubt have a very positive impact for future productions.”
The Wind that Shakes the Barley is set between 1920 and 1922 in Cork and has been described as a stirring and sympathetic portrait of the early days of the Irish Republican Army. However, it has also caused controversy in Britain for its graphic depiction of the brutality of British forces during the War of Independence.
The Irish Film Board, which supported the film, described Loach as a master of cinema.
“It is a triumph for Ireland that he chose a key moment of Irish history as the inspiration for one of his finest films,” said chief executive Simon Perry.
The front-runner for the coveted Palme d’Or prize for both critics and audiences had been Pedro Almodovar’s Spanish film, Volver, starring Penelope Cruz.
Babel, the new film from 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, was also considered a favourite.