I, Daniel Blake

The socially engaged, disturbingly topical drama tells the story of Daniel Blake, a 59-year-old joiner from Newcastle, who falls ill with heart disease and so applies for sickness benefit. While he strives to plough through the absurd red tape involved in getting financial assistance, and being compelled to seek a job in defiance of the doctors’ recommendations, he meets the single mother Katie and her two children. To escape a hostel for the homeless in London, the fatherless family must move into a flat some 300 miles away. Each in their own way, Daniel and Katie do their best to overcome the hardships, while retaining their own dignity. The latest film by the well-co-ordinated tandem of the director Ken Loach and the screenwriter Paul Laverty is an outspoken criticism of the social-assistance machinery, which results in the humiliation and degradation of individuals, reducing them to an irrelevant ledger entry. This year, I, Daniel Blake deservedly received the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.