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I, Daniel Blake

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I, Daniel Blake
British release poster
Directed byKen Loach
Written byPaul Laverty
Produced byRebecca O'Brien
CinematographyRobbie Ryan
Edited byJonathan Morris
Music byGeorge Fenton
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 13 May 2016 (2016-05-13) (Cannes)
  • 21 October 2016 (2016-10-21) (United Kingdom)
Running time
100 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
Box office$15.8 million[2]

I, Daniel Blake is a 2016 British drama film written by Paul Laverty and directed by Ken Loach. The film stars Dave Johns as Daniel Blake, a middle-aged man who is denied Employment and Support Allowance despite being declared unfit to work by his doctor. Hayley Squires co-stars as Katie, a struggling single mother whom Daniel befriends.

I, Daniel Blake won the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the Prix du public at the 2016 Locarno International Film Festival,[3][4] and the 2017 BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film.[5]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • I, Daniel Blake Official Trailer 1 (2016) - Dave Johns Movie
  • I, Daniel Blake - Official Trailer I HD I IFC Films
  • I, Daniel Blake / Moi, Daniel Blake (2016) - Extrait 1 (French Subs)
  • I, Daniel Blake - graffiti scene



Daniel Blake, a widowed 59-year-old joiner from Newcastle, has had a heart attack. Though his doctor has not allowed him to return to work, he is deemed fit to do so after a Work Capability Assessment and is denied Employment and Support Allowance. Daniel is frustrated to learn that his doctor was not contacted about this decision and thus applies for an appeal, a process Daniel finds difficult because he must complete forms online and is not computer literate.

Daniel befriends Katie Morgan, a single mother, after she is sanctioned for arriving late to her Jobcentre appointment. Katie and her children have just moved to Newcastle from a homeless shelter in London, as there is no affordable accommodation in London. Daniel helps the family by repairing objects, teaching them how to heat rooms without electricity, and crafting wooden toys for the children.

During a food bank visit, Katie breaks down crying, having become overwhelmed by hunger due to feeding her children instead of herself. After she is caught shoplifting at a supermarket, a security guard secretly offers Katie work as a prostitute. Daniel surprises her at the brothel where she goes to work and begs her to give up the job, but Katie tearfully insists she has no other way to feed her children.

As a condition for receiving Jobseeker's Allowance, Daniel must keep looking for work. He refuses a job at a garden centre because his doctor will not allow him to work yet. When his work coach tells him he must work harder to find a job or be sanctioned, Daniel spraypaints "I, Daniel Blake, demand my appeal date before I starve" on the side of the building.

Daniel earns the support of bystanders, including other people claiming benefits, but is arrested and cautioned by the police. Daniel sells most of his belongings and becomes a recluse but is pulled out of his depression by Katie's daughter, Daisy, who brings him a homemade meal to repay Daniel for his kindness. On the day of Daniel's appeal, Katie accompanies him to the tribunal, where a welfare adviser tells Daniel that his case looks promising. Upon seeing the judge and doctor who will decide his fate, Daniel becomes anxious and excuses himself to use the toilet, where he suffers another heart attack and dies.

Later, Katie reads a eulogy at his public health funeral, including a speech he had intended to read at his appeal. The speech describes his feelings about how the welfare system failed him, and states, "I am not a blip on a computer screen or a national insurance number, I am a man."



Principal photography began in October 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne and the surrounding area.[6] The film was produced by Rebecca O'Brien[7] for Sixteen Films, Why Not Productions and Wild Bunch with the support of the British Film Institute and BBC Films.[8]

O'Brien initially approached Channel 4's film division for funding. After a delay, O'Brien said she was told by Channel 4 that funding was not available as "we're already covering the area because we're doing Benefits Street",[9] a programme that many saw as demonising people on state welfare.[10]


I, Daniel Blake used a variety of marketing strategies to make sure Ken Loach's points got across to his targeted audience and that the film reached a wider audience, including disruptive marketing, street displays and newspaper inclusions. Ken Loach worked with the Trinity Mirror through the use of the editorial column of The Mirror and each newspaper had the "I" changed to reflect the main font of the film.[11]

The Trinity Mirror also provided 10,000 free tickets to see the movie as announced in one of their newspapers[12] and used Daniel Blake as the masthead for its papers. The House of Commons and other major buildings in London had projections of Daniel Blake's end speech placed onto the outside walls as part of its "Guerrilla Marketing Campaign".[13]

Ken Loach retweeted various tweets promoting the film and even started a hashtag #WeAreAllDanielBlake[14] which can mostly be found on the official I, Daniel Blake Twitter page.


I, Daniel Blake is Loach's biggest success at the UK box office.[15] On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 92%, based on 184 reviews, with an average rating of 8.01/10. The site's consensus reads: "I, Daniel Blake marks yet another well-told chapter in director Ken Loach's powerfully populist filmography."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 78 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".[17]

Writing for The Guardian, Mark Kermode gave the film five stars.[18]


In 2017, Dave Johns took a solo show to the Edinburgh Fringe: I, Filum Star chronicled how Johns's life had changed since the success of the film, and received critical acclaim, playing to sold out rooms throughout the run. In 2019, he toured a new show, From Byker to the BAFTAs, with 24 dates from August until November that year.[19]

A stand-up comedy show titled I, Tom Mayhew was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2019. The stand-up comedian Tom Mayhew had previously been on benefits for over three years in "austerity Britain" and was inspired to write the show after watching the film.[20] The show was critically acclaimed, with it transferring to a sold-out run at the Soho Theatre in January 2020.[21]

Dave Johns wrote a stage version updated to the 2021/2022 cost of living crisis, which was set to be premiered at the Northern Stage, Newcastle upon Tyne in May 2023.[22] Following this sold-out run, it is touring throughout the rest of the year.[23][24]

Political response

The Conservative Party's then-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, said the film was unfair and criticised its portrayal of Jobcentre staff: "This idea that everybody is out to crunch you, I think it has really hurt Jobcentre staff who don't see themselves as that."[25] The producer, Rebecca O'Brien, responded that Duncan Smith "is living in cloud cuckoo land".[26]

On the 27 October 2016 episode of the BBC topical debate programme Question Time, which had Loach as a panellist, the Conservative Party's then-Business Secretary Greg Clark described the film as "fictional" and said, "It's a difficult job administering a benefits system. Department for Work and Pensions staff have to make incredibly difficult decisions and I think they should have our support in making those decisions."

Loach responded by criticising the pressure that DWP staff are placed under: "We talked to hundreds of people who work at the DWP under your guidance and instructions, and they are told to sanction people. If they don't sanction them, they're in trouble." He later said, "When you're sanctioned your life is forced into chaos, and people are going to food banks. How can we live in a society where hunger is used as a weapon?"[27]

The Labour Party's then-Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, appeared at the film's London premiere and praised the film on his Facebook page.[28] During Prime Minister's Questions on 2 November 2016, Corbyn criticised the unfairness of the welfare system and advised then-Prime Minister, Theresa May, to watch the film.[29]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Australian Film Critics Association 7 March 2017 Best International Film (English Language) I, Daniel Blake Nominated [30]
British Academy Film Awards 12 February 2017 Best Film Rebecca O'Brien Nominated [31]
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Hayley Squires Nominated
Best Direction Ken Loach Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Paul Laverty Nominated
Best British Film Paul Laverty, Ken Loach and Rebecca O'Brien Won
British Independent Film Awards 4 December 2016 Best British Independent Film I, Daniel Blake Nominated [32]
Best Director Ken Loach Nominated
Best Actor Dave Johns Won
Best Actress Hayley Squires Nominated
Most Promising Newcomer Dave Johns Nominated
Hayley Squires Won
Best Screenplay Paul Laverty Nominated
Cannes Film Festival 22 May 2016 Palme d'Or Ken Loach Won [33]
Palm DogManitarian Award Ken Loach (showcasing a three-legged dog named Shea) Won
César Awards 24 February 2017 Best Foreign Film Ken Loach Won [34]
Denver Film Festival 14 November 2016 Special Jury Prize: Best Actress Hayley Squires Won [35]
Empire Awards 19 March 2017 Best British Film I, Daniel Blake Won [36]
Best Director Ken Loach Nominated
Best Male Newcomer Dave Johns Won
Best Female Newcomer Hayley Squires Nominated
European Film Awards 10 December 2016 Best Film I, Daniel Blake Nominated [37]
Best Director Ken Loach Nominated
Best Actor Dave Johns Nominated
Best Screenwriter Paul Laverty Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Awards 8 December 2016 Best Film I, Daniel Blake Won [38]
Best Actor Dave Johns Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Hayley Squires Won
Best Screenplay Paul Laverty Nominated
Most Powerful Scene Award I, Daniel Blake Won
Golden Tomato Awards 12 January 2017 Best British Movie 2016 I, Daniel Blake 3rd Place [39]
Locarno International Film Festival 13 August 2016 Prix du public Ken Loach Won [4]
London Film Critics' Circle 22 January 2017 Film of the Year I, Daniel Blake Nominated [40]
British/Irish Film of the Year I, Daniel Blake Won
British/Irish Actor of the Year Dave Johns Nominated
British/Irish Actress of the Year Hayley Squires Nominated
Magritte Awards 3 February 2018 Best Foreign Film in Coproduction I, Daniel Blake Nominated [41]
New York Film Critics Online 11 December 2016 Top 12 Films I, Daniel Blake Won [42]
San Sebastián International Film Festival 24 September 2016 Audience Award: Best Film Ken Loach Won [43]
Stockholm International Film Festival 20 November 2016 Audience Award: Best Film Ken Loach Won [44]
Vancouver International Film Festival 14 October 2016 Most Popular International Feature Ken Loach Won [45]


  1. ^ a b "I, Daniel Blake (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  2. ^ "I, Daniel Blake (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  3. ^ Lee, Benjamin (22 May 2016). "Cannes 2016: Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake wins the Palme d'Or - live!". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
    - "Cannes Film Festival Winners: Palme d'Or To Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Palmarès 2016". Locarno.
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  27. ^ "Ken Loach and minister Greg Clark clash over 'fictional' I, Daniel Blake on Question Time". Daily Telegraph. 28 October 2016.
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  29. ^ "PMQs: Corbyn tells May to watch I Daniel Blake film". BBC News. 2 November 2016.
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  37. ^ Evans, Alan (7 November 2016). "Toni Erdmann leads nominations at European film awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
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    - Norum, Ben (9 December 2016). "Evening Standard British Film Awards: Kate Beckinsale and Hugh Grant Crowned". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
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  40. ^ "'Moonlight' and 'Love and Friendship' Lead London Film Critics' Circle Nominations". Variety. 20 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  41. ^ Degré, Michaël (11 January 2018). "Magrittes 2018: vers un match Streker-Belvaux?". L'Avenir (in French). Retrieved 16 January 2018.
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  43. ^ Rosser, Michael (19 August 2016). "San Sebastian: 'I, Daniel Blake', 'Fire At Sea' in Pearls line-up". Screen Daily. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
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