Interview with Ken Loach & Francesca Martinez Wed, 2017-02-15 15:50

After a packed-out film screening of BAFTA award-winning I, Daniel Blake and a Q&A session at SOAS we caught up with film director Ken Loach and comedian Francesca Martinez for a short interview – listen to them talk about the human right of laughter, the role of the arts in politics and the surprising success of Loach’s latest film I, Daniel Blake.

Thanks to Feyzi Ismail. Interview and production by Miia Laine.

About I, Daniel Blake:

Daniel Blake, 59, has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. Now, for the first time ever, he needs help from the state. He crosses paths with single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know, some 300 miles away. Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land, caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern-day Britain.

Ken Loach was born in 1936 in Nuneaton. Following a brief spell in theatre, Loach launched his long career directing films for television and the cinema. Now, 60 years after he made an indelible mark on society with the airing of Cathy Come Home, a TV drama which was credited with transforming the nation’s perception of homelessness, Loach returns with one of his most powerful and important films. The Palme d’Or winning I, Daniel Blake proves Ken’s voice is as essential to the country now as it ever was. This is his second Palme d’Or, the first for The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006. His film Kes was voted the seventh greatest British film of the 20th century in a poll by the British Film Institute. His socially critical directing style and his socialist ideals are evident in his film treatment of social issues in general – poverty, homelessness and labour rights, amongst others. He has collaborated with screenwriter Paul Laverty on a number of films. How To Make a Ken Loach Film, an app and website that unveils Ken’s inimitable style of filmmaking through contributions from close collaborators and the man himself, is available online for free.

Francesca Martinez is a wobbly* comedian, writer and speaker who has toured internationally with sell-out runs at The Melbourne Comedy Festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. She launched her comedy career in 2000 beating a thousand UK comedians, including Mathew Horne, Karl Theobald and Jimmy Carr, to become the first and only woman to win the Open Mic Award. She has performed in Australia, Ireland, France, South Africa, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, in Hollywood and on Broadway, and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland alongside actress Emma Thompson. Last year, she opened Series 11 of BBC2’s Live At The Apollo, guested on BBC’s Celebrity Pointless, and wrote a play commemorating Shakespeare’s birth for BBC Radio 3. This year she has commissions to write plays for BBC Radio 4 and the National Theatre. In 2013 she collected 100,000 signatures for the WOW campaign, leading to a historic debate on welfare cuts in the House of Commons. In 2015 she received an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University for ‘making Britain a more compassionate and fairer society’, and another in 2016 from Bradford University. Her bestselling first book, also called What The **** Is Normal?!, was published by Random House in 2014, with a paperback release in May 2015.
*Oh yeah, she has mild cerebral palsy but she much prefers the word ‘wobbly’.