Award-winning Film I, Daniel Blake Highlights Austerity Injustices in the UK

Words: Ash Carter
Wednesday 01 February 2017
reading time: min, words

The Palme d'Or winning film is at Nottingham Arts Theatre with a post-screening Q&A to get deep into the issues discussed in Ken Loach's impactful critique on the benefits system...


It’s testament to Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning masterpiece that among its almost universal praise, The Guardian called it “profoundly moving” and “brilliantly insightful,” while The Daily Mail labeled it “forced,” “clunky” and “over-praised.” Upon its initial release, I, Daniel Blake felt like a film of real importance, not just cinematically, but socio-politically. It’s the story of a 59-year-old Newcastle joiner who, despite the life-threatening arrhythmia from his recent heart attack, is told he is fit and healthy to go back to work. 

A damning indictment of the dehumanising eligibility tests conducted in order to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance, the latest film from Ken Loach’s superb canon caused widespread debate. Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith referred to the film as unfair, aiming particular criticism at its portrayal of Jobcentre staff, whereas Business Secretary Greg Clark labeled it as a “fiction film.” 

Jeremy Corbyn however, in talking to Theresa May, said: “Could I recommend the Prime Minister supports British cinema and takes herself along to the cinema to see a Palme D’Or winning film – I, Daniel Blake? While she’s doing so, perhaps she could take the Work and Pensions Secretary with her because he described the film as ‘monstrously unfair’ and then went on to admit that he’d never seen it. He’s obviously got a very fair sense of judgment on this. I’ll tell the Prime Minister what’s monstrously unfair – ex-servicemen like David Clapson dying without food in his home due to the Government’s sanctions regime. It is time that we ended this institutionalised barbarity against often very vulnerable people.”

While researching the film, Loach personally worked with clients from various Nottingham-based charities. Nottingham Arts Theatre, of whom Loach is a Patron, are holding a screening of I, Daniel Blake, at which 150 seats are being dedicated to the clients and workers whose stories helped make the film a reality in order to allow them to see the film for free. Further tickets are available to the general public to anyone who missed the film on its initial release, wants to see it again on the big screen, or wants to attend and support both the charities and film.

The exclusive, one-off screening is expected to be popular so booking tickets in advance is highly recommended. There will be free food available for the clients of Emmanuel House and St Ann’s Advice Centre before the screening, which will be followed by a talk from Jack Monroe and several workers involved in the research of the film from Framework, Emmanuel House, POW and St Ann's Advice Centre. 

I, Daniel Blake screening with Q&A, Nottingham Arts Theatre, Friday 3 February 2016, £8/£7, 6.30pm.

Nottingham Arts Theatre Event Page
I, Daniel Blake website



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