U.K. film fests in line for $9.4 mil in support


LONDON -- U.K. film festivals are in line for a new £4.5 million ($9.4 million), three-year government cash infusion designed to raise the profile of British film, Culture Secretary James Purnell said Thursday.

The U.K. Film Council will provide £1.5 million ($3.1 million) a year of National Lottery money over three years to help fund as many as two festivals that have national and international standing and as many as eight festivals that are of British national significance.

The initiative comes in the wake of the U.K. Film Council's consultation with the film industry this year, in which there was widespread demand for more funding for film festivals.

Speaking ahead of the closing of the Times BFI London Film Festival, Purnell said: "As the curtain closes on the 51st Times BFI London Film Festival, I'd like to congratulate the BFI on another quality, star-studded event and take this opportunity to launch a £4.5 million festival fund that will benefit film fans across the country.

"Film festivals are incredibly important in bringing new, exciting and important films to audiences and in the process deliver cultural, social and educational benefits," he added. "The U.K.'s film festivals showcase creativity and create economic, company and global value for the U.K. film industry."

Said U.K. Film Council CEO John Woodward: "With a bit more targeted support, we believe that the bar can be raised for the benefit of U.K. audiences and for filmmakers from the U.K. and around the world."

The announcement came the same day that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that the U.K. Film Council's government resource funding, currently at £22.4 million ($46.7 million), will be inflation-proofed for the next three years.