Ken Loach talks about his new film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ about the problems in the welfare system

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Ken Loach talks about his new film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ about the problems in the welfare system.

In this interview Ken Loach tells Malcolm Lewis that the media see poverty as the fault of the poor,


Film Director Ken Loach Bruno Chatelin under a Creative Commons Licence

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

Your new film, I, Daniel Blake, is again about the welfare system, and housing policy. It shows the personal experiences of people with real problems. How did you get the ideas for the film?

First, we started hearing stories about what was happening. The assessments, sanctions, food banks. I went with Paul Laverty, who wrote the script, to around six towns and cities where we kept hearing the same thing. #

Not many people know what is happening. People don’t know how big the problem is. It is affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Many of them feel ashamed.

People in the UK probably hear more about it in other countries, like Greece, but not here in the UK.

The media just like the government want to keep the problem secret.

Sometimes they write a story about the problem, but they see poverty as the fault of the poor. They say people don’t have the right CV to get a job, that people are not good enough. We have the television programmes about benefits, ‘benefits cheats’. They show people who have very big problems with their health or drugs. And the media show them as typical people who do not deserve anything.

Most of the media have a middle class view of the world and they don’t know about life as many people experience it.

How can people find out about it? Once there were the newspapers, the Daily Herald, and the Daily Mirror that had reporters like Paul Foot and John Pilger. These newspapers had more readers than any other, and strong critical ideas. Your first films were on the BBC, with a very big audience, when there were only three TV channels.

I think the aggressive capitalism of Margaret Thatcher has affected everyone. Businessmen like Alan Sugar, Sir Phillip Green, and the others are the way of the world and always will be. It is very difficult to explain that things can change.

In the real world, how much difference can a political film make? Oh God knows! People in other European countries understand what I, Daniel Blake is about. The details change but the ideas don’t change. It’s about a part of the state that’s punishing people. The important thing is what happens when people leave the cinema!

In the UK people think you are left wing, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. Is it different in Europe?

They have a different idea about cinema. Cinema can be important and political.

How many people will see I, Daniel Blake?

Quite a lot. It’s on for a week in the usual cinemas, then, depending on the audience, more will see it. They also want to show it outside cinemas. Lots of people do not go to cinemas! So the film will show in community centres, trade unions, rooms above pubs. At food banks too if they want to show it.


(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).