Helmer irate over destroyed footage

FilmFour 'systems error' loses Mullan's material

LONDON — Actor-director Peter Mullan has fired a broadside against FilmFour for destroying all the unused footage from his award-winning pic “Orphans” without his knowledge.

Mullan was preparing the DVD of the film when he discovered that no extra material was available.

“Orphans,” which picked up several fest prizes in 1998, will be released in the U.S. by the Shooting Gallery in February. It was handled in the U.K. by Downtown after FilmFour initially declined to release it.

The extra footage, which included the original seven-minute opening, was destroyed three months prior to the U.K. release.

Mullan’s letter of protest, describing the incident as a “revolting act of vandalism” by “cultural barbarians,” was published Thursday in The Guardian newspaper.

FilmFour chief exec Paul Webster said there had been a “systems error,” and that the company is now taking steps to ensure it cannot be repeated.

“We are completely responsible, culpable — we are utterly distraught,” Webster said. “We have apologized to Peter, and contrary to the tone of his letter, he knows it was an accident.”

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