(K. Brent Tomer),
“EDUCATE, agitate, organise.” With his latest film, Ken Loach takes heed of George Bernard Shaw’s famous call to action for the British left wing. “I, Daniel Blake” tells the story of a joiner put out of work by a heart attack, and brings a cold light to bear on Britain’s impersonal and inflexible welfare system. Reviews have ranged from rapture to begrudging respect. But with its overt political message, “I, Daniel Blake” is an anomaly. Despite a six-year “age of austerity”—and an eightfold increase in the number of local authorities operating foodbanks—the reaction in film has been muted.
The answer partially lies in funding. The number of low-budget feature films—films with a cache of less than £500,000 ($620,000)—produced in Britain fell by over 70% between 2010 and 2015. Steve Presence, the co-founder of the Bristol Radical Film Festival, says that without this money the chance of hearing angry, politicised voices “is diminished”, and that the risk aversion of the British Film Institute, the largest film funding body in Britain, is partly to blame. But Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI film fund, notes that they…Continue reading