with an invitation to participate in John Harrison’s ‘Empathy Tower’
Ken Loach’s triumphant Palme d’Or-winning impassioned welfare state drama, made right here in Newcastle, is a vital film for our times.
The film stars local stand-up comedian Dave Johns as Daniel Blake, a middle-aged widower, who after working his whole life in Newcastle as a joiner finds himself in need of help from the state following a near-fatal heart attack.His path crosses with Katie, a single mother and her two young children who have been forced to move up north from London to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel. Daniel and Katie find themselves in a 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.
This special screening took place as the finale to Hidden Civil War, a month long series of events and exhibitions that exposed, collated and presented evidence of a Hidden Civil War in Britain today. we were joined after the film for a panel discussion with activists, trade unionists, charity leaders and star of the film, Kema Kay.
The panel included:
John Coan, Regional Organiser from Unite Community; actor Kema Kay; Jessie Jacobs, a campaigner and former CEO of charity A Way Out; representatives from Tyne and Wear against Unemployment and from Changing Lives, a charity that works with homeless and vulnerable people.
Following the Q & A, guests were invited to visit John Harrison’s Art installation at Newbridge Project Space to sign an empathy block, and show solidarity with those experiencing the benefits system as part of his “Empathy Tower”.
This event was supported by Changing lives, Aquila Oasis, East Durham Trust, Tyne and Wear Against Unemployment, local churches, Unite Community and Talk Socialism.
Hidden Civil War was a month long programme of events and exhibitions across Newcastle upon Tyne that exposed, collated and presented evidence of a Hidden Civil War in Britain today. Hidden Civil War, a collaborative project, commissioned by The NewBridge Project and developed in partnership with East St Arts, Hands on Film Lab, Metal, Paper Rhino, Mark Donne, Taryn Edmonds, Chris Erskine, Julia Heslop, Beth Ramsay, Julie Tomlin, Vicky Ward and Aisha Zia. Hidden Civil War was delivered with the support of partner venues; Cobalt Studios, Tyne Theatre, Summerhill Bowling Club and The Cumberland Arms. Accompanying publication, The Precariat is produced by Paper Rhino.