Producer Tim Bevan, chairman of the UK Film Council, is speaking out against a dramatic government move today to kill the organization. An agency that supports filmmaking and film culture in the UK, the Film Council includes a staff of 75 people and -- over the past decade -- has backed some 900 films and otherwise supported film in the UK.
UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt proposed merging and cutting a number of art and sport organizations today, with the goal of, "establishing a direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute." The government would still back films using lottery funds, but, in the words of statement today, "This would support front-line services while ensuring greater value for money."
"Abolishing the most successful film support organisation the UK has ever had is a bad decision, imposed without any consultation or evaluation," Bevan said in a statement issued from London today, "People will rightly look back on today's announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency. British film, which is one of the UK's more successful growth industries, deserves better."
"Our immediate priority now is to press the Government to confirm that the funding levels and core functions that are needed to underpin British film are locked-in," Bevan continued, "Especially at a time when filmmakers and film companies need more support than ever as they make the challenging transition into the digital age. To that end, we will work with the DCMS over the summer to identify how they can guarantee both continuity and safe harbour for British film."
The UK Film Council said today that it has invested more than £160 million in Lottery funds over the past ten years, generating £700 million at the box office worldwide. The organization also noted its role of supporting new British filmmakers and training local talent.
Films funded by the UK Film Council in the past ten years include: "Bend it like Beckham," "Bright Star," "The Constant Gardener," "Fish Tank," "Gosford Park," "Happy-Go-Lucky," "In the Loop," "The Last King of Scotland," "Man on Wire," "Nowhere Boy," "Red Road," "St Trinian’s," "This is England," "Touching the Void," "Vera Drake," "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "Streetdance 3D."
Other initiatives of the Film Council include a digital screen network, as well as support of UK film festivals and other film societies and organizations.