Toronto swansong for UKFC

As the Guardian film blog notes it is indeed richly ironic that in the year its demise was announced, UK Film Council-backed films should be making such a strong showing at the Toronto Film Festival. Amongst the 13 UKFC-backed films (out of 29 British in total )  Tom Hooper’s UK/Australian Co-pro The King’s Speech won the Cadillac Audience Award with another Brit pic, Justin Chadwick’s First Grader taking the runner-up prize. But then again the decision to axe the UKFC wasn’t, as far as anyone tell, predicated on an alleged failure to back enough successes or, indeed, on any coherent analysis at all.  It appears to have been the result of a few key individuals (at least one of them a prominent ‘commercial’ filmmaker) bending UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s ear and accusing UKFC executives of milking the public purse.  Facing cuts to his own department of up to 40% it seems the Minister was goaded into precipitate action ‘pour encourager les autres’.  Britain has a long history of see-sawing film policy going back to the thirties and this latest example of ministerial slash and burn on the flimsiest of pretexts is unlikely to be the last. 

But all that said its time to move on (a conclusion also reached last week by UKFC CEO John Woodward) and do what we can to ensure that what emerges from the ashes of the Film Council does justice to the talent and aspiration of UK filmmakers and to the needs and desires of audiences here and around the world.  Pity we seem to have to keep reinventing the wheel though…

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