The Old Oak is a special place. Not only is it the last pub standing, it is the only remaining public space where people can meet in a once thriving mining community that has now fallen on hard times after 30 years of decline. TJ Ballantyne the landlord hangs on to The Old Oak by his fingertips, and his hold is endangered even more when the pub becomes contested territory after the arrival of Syrian refugees who are placed in the village.
He was born in 1936 in Nuneaton (England). After a brief stint in the theatre, he was hired by the BBC in 1963 and began a long career directing fifty films for television and cinema, from ‘Cathy Come Home’ (1966) to ‘The Old Oak’ (2023), presented this year in Cannes, where he already won the Palme d’Or with ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ (2006) and with ‘I, Daniel Blake’ (2016). His relationship with Seminci has been close and intense from the days when he won the City of Valladolid Award in 1971 for ‘Kes’, to his two Golden Spikes respectively for ‘My Name is Joe’ (1998) and ‘Sweet Sixteen’ (2002). ), in addition to the Silver Spike in 1991 for ‘Riff Raff’ and the audience award in 2004 for ‘A Fond Kiss’. The festival also dedicated a complete retrospective to his cinematic career in 1992, a tribute which included a monographic book and the Festival’s Honorary Spike.