Ken Loach on 'I, Daniel Blake': What Happens When People Leave the Cinema?
The media present poverty as the fault of the poor, Ken Loach tells Malcolm Lewis in this interview.
Ken Loach on 'I, Daniel Blake': What Happens When People Leave the Cinema?
Film Director Ken Loach Bruno Chatelin under a Creative Commons Licence
By Malcolm Lewis / newint.org
Oct 20, 2016

For more than 50 years you’ve made political films. Films about working class people. One of your first, 1966’s Cathy Come Home, was about a homeless family and the then welfare system. It had a massive impact.

The latest I, Daniel Blake is again about the welfare system, and housing policy. It gets over the personal experiences of people at the sharp end forcefully, and poignantly. How did it come about?

First of all, we started hearing stories about what was going on. The assessments, sanctions, food banks. I went with Paul Laverty, who wrote the script, to half-a-dozen towns and cities where we kept hearing the same sort of thing.

Few people are aware of what‘s going on, and the scale of it, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, many of them feeling ashamed.

People here are probably more aware of it happening elsewhere, for example in Greece, but not here in the UK.

I hate the word, but for want of a better word, the ‘media’ has a common interest with government in not disclosing it.

Occasionally they do an exposé, but they present poverty as the fault of the poor. They don’t have the right CV to get the job, they’re inadequate, that’s the line. We have the television programmes about benefits, ‘benefits cheats’. They show people who have huge problems – with their health, addiction – and they’re presented as undeserving and typical.

Almost all the press and certainly the broadcasters have a middle class view of the world and they don’t know life as many people experience it.

How would people find out? At one time there was the Daily Herald, and a Daily Mirror that had people like Paul Foot, John Pilger, writing for it. A publication with more readers than any other, and with strong oppositional voices. Your first films were in the Wednesday Play slot on the BBC, with a huge audience, when there were only three TV channels.

I think the Thatcherite counter revolution, maybe that’s too strong a term, but that development of aggressive capitalism, has affected everyone. It imbued a consciousness that’s still prevalent. That entrepreneurs – like Alan Sugar, Sir Phillip Green and the rest of the shoddy bunch – are the way of the world and always will be. There’s a huge battle for understanding that there can be change.

Before I saw the film, I didn’t much like the title. But when Daniel Blake writes it, and where he writes it, it’s his statement. It’s his refusal to be ground down by them. And it strikes a chord, in the film. In the real world, how much impact can a political film have?

Oh God knows! People in other European countries have recognised what I, Daniel Blake is about. The details change but the principles don’t – it’s about part of the state that’s punishing people. It depends what happens when people leave the cinema, doesn’t it!

In the UK you’re put to one side in a political bag – Loach, lefty, Corbynista or whatever. Is it different in wider Europe?

They have a different idea of cinema. Cinema can be engaged, not narrow. Here you get a label – left, Marxist, provincial – you’re one of those and you’re dismissed.

How wide a release will I, Daniel Blake get?

Quite wide. eOne have been very supportive. It’s on for a week in the usual cinemas, then, depending on the audience, more widely. They’re also keen to show it outside cinemas. Lots of people do not go to art house cinemas! So eOne will make it available for community centres, trade unions, rooms above pubs. Food banks too! If they want to show it. As a fund raiser, for discussion, whatever use it might have. For a modest fee. Anyone interested should email Ben Metcalf on bmetcalf@entonegroup.com.

The film is deeply moving, painful at times. I don’t think I’ve ever been so affected by a scene about someone who never appears – or rather, only appears in a little photograph. The scene where Daniel talks about his wife is so touching. All through the film there’s this sense that things should be different. In this scene though things can’t be different. How did that scene come about?

Well, it’s in the writing. Dave plays it very gently, truthfully. It’s about him containing his emotion. But in terms of plot we needed someone who was isolated, didn’t have a family, or that would have changed the relationship with Katie. It’s a beautifully written scene.

It’s not just the writing though, or the acting. Where did you get the photograph? Who was the person?

Well, we cast an actor. A photographer, who I know well and I’ve worked with for a long time, went out with her for a day and took pictures in different parts of Newcastle. And it was important that Dan had a memory of his wife, so they had to spend time together. It’s the result of a huge collective effort.

So far you’ve made more than 50 films. If you had to recommend three of those for people to see, which would they be? Which are you most pleased with.

I don’t know what to say. Not at all. You know, they’re all your children.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 7,549 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
PROPAGANDA (2012)
95 min · 4,662 views today · Since it mysteriously appeared on YouTube on July 18, 2012, ‘Propaganda’ has been described as ‘1984 meets The Blair Witch Project’, ‘A mouthful of scary porridge’, and ‘Even...
The Science Behind Connection
9 min · 3,315 views today · Evolutionary Biologist, Bruce Lipton, visits the Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh, India with UPLIFT writer, Jacob Devaney. Making a pilgrimage back to one of the epicenters of...
Life Goes On: A Positive and Uplifting Response to Dark Times
2 min · 2,391 views today · Recent world events have a lot of people feeling fearful and angry. But there is much more good than bad in this world, and I choose to remain hopeful. This video explains why.
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 2,196 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,605 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 557 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
"Desert Goddess" Remembers Arizona's Glen Canyon
7 min · 512 views today · In this excerpt from the award-winning documentary DamNation, filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel interview the "desert goddess," Katie Lee. When the Glen Canyon Dam was...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 417 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 377 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 374 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
The Safety Pin and the Swastika
Shuja Haider · 351 views today · The frameworks of liberal identity politics and “alt-right” white nationalism are proving curiously compatible.
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 295 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 258 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 251 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Defiance in the Face of Oppression - Iranian Artist Atena Farghadani Defends the Right to Draw
Gavin Aung Than · 249 views today · Atena Farghadani is a 28-year-old Iranian artist. She was recently sentenced to 12 years and 9 months in prison for drawing a cartoon.  
Money & Life (2013)
86 min · 208 views today · Money & Life is a passionate and inspirational essay-style documentary that asks a provocative question: can we see the economic crisis not as a disaster, but as a tremendous...
This Zen Comic Is Full of Timeless Life Lessons
Gavin Aung Than · 203 views today · Desiderata poem by Max Ehrmann beautifully illustrated by Gavin Aung Than
Deconstructing Hierarchies: On Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power
Colin Jenkins · 203 views today · Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 201 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Ken Loach on 'I, Daniel Blake': What Happens When People Leave the Cinema?