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Ken Loach’s latest film I, Daniel Blake is a charming tale of found family that stumbles into the unfortunate pitfall of having so much to say that it says very little.

I, Daniel Blake opens with Daniel discussing his recent heart attack with a ‘healthcare professional’ who refuses to tell him what qualifies her to assess his ability to work. He repeatedly asserts the fact that his doctors have told him he cannot return to work because of the massive health risk it would pose. The opening is extremely powerful; by using only non-diegetic sound and withholding the visual side of this conversation, Loach forces us to really concentrate on what is happening. We see Daniel visit his old stomping ground to pick up some scrap wood from the lads at the construction site. Daniel’s hobby of carving fish mobiles is a clever way of demonstrating his drive to continue working. It’s a less-physical version of the carpentry he is no longer fit to do.

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As the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising enters its final quarter, it was marked at the Fingal Film Festival with a special 1916 screening. A showing of The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Ken Loach’s film about the tumultuous years in Ireland that followed the Rising, was preceded by a trio of short films set during that fateful week in Irish history. In a year that’s seen the most famous names from the Rising plastered all over the city, it’s refreshing that all of these shorts focus on more unsung participants. As part of our coverage of the Festival, Film In Dublin takes a closer look at these shorts.

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