Top image: Still, “I, Daniel Blake”, 2016 dir. Ken Loach
At last night’s BAFTA awards ceremony, director Ken Loach used his acceptance speech to attack the British government’s “callous brutality”, in particular the current austerity cuts and Theresa May’s refusal to accept thousands of refugee children fleeing conflict.
Receiving the Outstanding British Film trophy for his highly acclaimed drama I, Daniel Blake – a stark and honest portrayal of the benefits systems – the director said: “Thank you to the academy for endorsing the truths of what the film says, which hundreds and thousands of people in this country know, the most vulnerable and poorest are treated by the Government with a callous brutality that is disgraceful, a brutality that extends to keeping out refugee children we promised to help and that’s a disgrace too.”
“Films can do many things, they can entertain, terrify, they can make us laugh and tell us something about the real world we live in – sorry it’s early for a political speech – and in that real world it’s getting darker and in the struggle that is coming between rich and poor and the wealthy and the privileged and the big corporations and politicians who speak for them.”
Loach then focused his attention on the refugee crisis. “It’s a brutality that extends to keeping out refugee children we promised to help,” said the director referring to the closure of Dubs child refugee scheme – a programme providing sanctuary to unaccompanied child refugees.