British director Ken Loach joined an elite club this month winning the Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival with his powerful welfare state polemic film I, DANIEL BLAKE. Only eight other directors have twice won the prestigious top honour in its 69 year old history, including Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Haneke, Luc and Pierre Durdenne.
His previous win was with the war drama THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY in 2006.
I, DANIEL BLAKE follows the growing humiliation of a 59 year old Geordie joiner who struggles with the British benefits system after an attack leaves him unable to work.
The 79 year-old filmmaker said he had finished with directing, but became so infuriated by the plight of the poor under the current Conservative government that he came out of retirement to make this film addressing the human cost of their policies.
“Punishing the poor is no accident, it’s part of David Cameron’s project”, he said.
Ken turned down an OBE in 1997, stating, “It’s not a club you want to join when you look at the villains who’ve got it.”
I have met Ken a few times at the British Film Institute and the week after his Cannes win he was speaking at the premiere of VERSUS, a documentary about history and life. I drew this sketch on the day and hoped to get him to sign it in person at the Curzon Cinema in Soho, but couldn’t make it in the end, so sent it to his production company instead.