BFI Rolls Out International Strategy

The U.K.'s leading movie agency will pilot P&A support for U.S. releases of selected U.K. movies in 2014 and identifies the U.S., China and Brazil as key growth territories.

LONDON – The British Film Institute has revealed details of its International strategy, which includes a pilot program providing P&A support for U.S. releases of selected U.K. films in 2014 and an increase in funding to support inward investment, film export and co-production.

The BFI has pledged $2.4 million of its lottery funding annually to fuel its international strategy "to make effective interventions" and is working closely with the government's department for culture, media and sport, U.K. Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the British Council, along with public and private partners, to maximize the support available for U.K. films.

Developing an international strategy under the watchful eye of BFI head of international Isabel Davis is a "key aim of the BFI’s five-year plan, Film Forever."

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As the U.K.'s biggest and most prominent movie agency and the gatekeeper of millions of dollars in lottery-fueled investment cash pools, the BFI is looking beyond borders to drive U.K. economic growth and enhance the global reputation of British film.

Davis has consulted widely with government officials and partners throughout the U.K. and identified audiovisual policy, co-production, cultural exchange, export, inward investment and skills as being key to the British film economy.

The strategy is underpinned by research undertaken by Olsberg SPI on behalf of the BFI, with China, Brazil and the U.S. "identified as priority territories" because of clear evidence that "they offer the greatest opportunities for growth and for public intervention through the BFI and its partners to help unlock opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration."

The international strategy, titled The Wide Angle: The BFI’s International Strategy, was presented to an audience of film professionals on Tuesday as part of the BFI London Film Festival’s industry program.

Davis said: “Film is a truly global business, and U.K. film is riding high on the world stage following a hugely successful outing for British films and filmmakers in the autumn festivals and with the U.K.'s world-class crews, talent, facilities, studios and infrastructure, coupled with our attractive film tax relief, continuing to entice film production from around the world. The aim of this strategy is to capitalize on that success and stimulate growth in the years ahead. Partnership is at the heart of this strategy, and we look forward to working in close collaboration with our partners in government and the industry to maximize the economic growth and cultural reach of U.K. film.”

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The strategy means the budget of the BFI Film Export Fund, which helps spotlight U.K. films in key international markets, has increased to $440,000 per year.

In 2014, the BFI will pilot a program to provide an undisclosed amount of P&A support for the U.S. rollouts of U.K. films to help sales companies "make U.K. films even more attractive at key international markets and ensure U.K. films are able to achieve better audience reach in the U.S."

Additionally, the BFI is committed to ensuring a strong U.K. presence at key international festivals and markets such as the EFM in Berlin, FILMART Hong Kong, the Marche du Film in Cannes and during the Toronto Film Festival under the international umbrella brand, We Are U.K Film.

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The BFI International fund has also committed $320,000 per year, subject to approval, to support the British Film Commission, to attract film investment from the U.S.

This is in addition to the $639,000 Grant-in-Aid (GIA) funding from the BFI.

There will also be "up to" $1.6 million each year for minority co-productions, giving U.K. producers and talent "enhanced opportunities" to collaborate with filmmakers.

The BFI continues to review U.K. membership in Eurimages and the impact of the U.K. film tax relief on co-production.