BFI and Film London

BFI and Film London put in charge of promoting British film – no funding for short film for the time being

In July 2010 the British government decided to abolish the UK Film Council, with the council’s activities to be concluded by the end of June 2011. The British Film Institute (BFI) and Film London took over national film promotion as of 1 April, each assigned a portion of the former tasks of the UKFC. The BFI published FAQs in mid-April providing information on the transfer of responsibilities.

The FAQs state that the core tasks – such as fostering the development and production of new British films as well as the promotion of film sales and screening – are with immediate effect under the purview of the BFI. Film London will assume responsibility for encouraging inward investment into the UK.

During the transition period, the promotion guidelines will be applied that were laid down by the UKFC as a three-year plan in the document “UK Film: Digital innovation and creative excellence” (April 2010 to March 2013). This does not extend however to the Innovation Fund. And the International Festivals Fund: Sales Support (IFFSS scheme) has been cancelled as well. In addition, restrictions have been placed on the “Grant-in-Aid” programme, which had already been cut by 50% during UKFC days.

Still up in the air is the fate of the film education programme, whose brief expires in December 2011. The so-called “Diversity Unit” of the UKFC, whose functions included integration projects with ethnic minorities and the disabled as well as projects fighting discrimination and promoting women’s equality, was axed entirely. No funding is currently designated for short films.

New is a structure called “Creative England”. It replaces the former English Regional Screen Agencies and is supposed to promote the “creative industries” in England.

Further open questions resulting from the institutional changes are to be addressed this year by the BFI and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). On the agenda are in particular new guidelines for the use of funds from the National Lottery.

The expediency of closing the UKFC continues to be discussed by the trade public. According to a report in The Guardian, closing down the UKFC and restructuring the funding landscape has eaten up four times as much funds as the council’s former annual budget – the very budget the government brought forth as argument for its abolishment.
No one doubts the integrity of the British Film Institute; there is some concern, however, that yet another step is being taken toward centralized government film funding and an increasing convergence of the areas of film culture and film industry.


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