I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach’s drama about a middle-aged carpenter recovering from a heart attack and trying to navigate the benefits system, has taken best British film at the Evening Standard film awards.
At a ceremony in London hosted by the actor and director Richard Ayoade, the drama also picked up best actress for newcomer Hayley Squires, who plays a single mother also encountering obstacles claiming welfare. It capped the evening by winning the award for most powerful scene, for its harrowing sequence set in a foodbank in which Squires’s character is so hungry she eats from a tin of cold baked beans.
The awards, now in their 40th year, recognise primarily British films and talent, and their celebration of Loach’s film echoes the message of the paper’s recent championing of The Felix Project, which seeks to distribute surplus food to Londoners in need.
Loach’s film, which initially struggled to find funding, has been an unexpected hit: first picking up the Palme d’Or in Cannes, then being endorsed by the likes of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. So far, the film has taken £4m in the UK; a best-ever result for Loach, who is now 80. Loach did not attend due, said he longtime producer Rebecca O’Brien, to illness, which meant he was unable to travel. He did honour a long-standing engagement at his local football club in Bath.