Ken Loach's New Film 'I, Daniel Blake' Reduced Cannes Film Festival Critics To Tears

'The most vulnerable people are told their poverty is their own fault'.

14/05/2016 20:38 | Updated 23 May 2016

UPDATE: 'I, Daniel Blake' wins Palme D’Or at Cannes Film Festival.

Ken Loach's new film that takes an uncompromising look at the UK's welfare system reduced critics at the Cannes Film Festival to tears.

Set in Newcastle (and shown at the event with subtitles in case people couldn't understand the Geordie accent), 'I, Daniel Blake' tells the fictional story of carpenter Daniel Blake who suffers a heart attack and is told by doctors he can no longer work.

An assessment commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) goes against medical advice and rules him too healthy to receive benefits.

Daniel Blake, left, played by Dave Johns and the single mother, played by Hayley Squires.

Blake - who befriends the single mum shown in the clip below - is forced to hunt for jobs which he has to turn down as he is too sick.

The film has particular resonance this week after the story of a partially paralysed man with part of his skull missing declared "fit for work" emerged.

Loach said: "The most vulnerable people are told their poverty is their own fault.

"If you have no work it is your fault that you haven't got a job.

"It is shocking. It is not an issue just for people in our country, it is throughout Europe and there is a conscious cruelty in the way we are organising our lives now."

Ken Loach

Loach, 79, said while researching the film, workers at the DWP admitted to being "humiliated at how they were forced to treat the public".

Many of those involved in the film are from working-class backgrounds including the director and main actors.

Hayley Squires plays the young single mother and her mother still lives in social housing. 

She said: "Normal people are led to believe that this amount of people are on benefits and are therefore scroungers, and this amount of people are going to work to pay so that they can scrounge.

"They've left us to argue among ourselves so they can keep doing what they are doing."

Loach suggested this is what leads to the rise in popularity of groups like the EDL and Britain First.

He said: "It's how the far right rises, isn't it? It's how the far right rises."

The film has been well-received in by film critics.

The Telegraph called it a "a quietly fearsome piece of drama" and The Guardian described it as "blunt, dignified and brutally moving".

Loach has a legendary track record in socially conscious documentary-making. Fifty years ago he directed 'Cathy Come Home' which examined homelessness.

A 2000 industry poll rated it as the second best British TV programme ever made.

 'I, Daniel Blake' is set to be released this year but a date has not been set.

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