UKFC boosts festival funding

Edinburgh, London likely to benefit

LONDON — The U.K. Film Council has confirmed that it will provide an extra £4.5 million ($9.4 million) over the next three years to boost film festivals across the country, with the Edinburgh and London fests likely to be the main beneficiaries.

The vast majority of the new lottery funding, $7.8 million, will be awarded to up to two festivals of “major international and national significance” – which effectively narrows the candidates to Edinburgh and London.

The remaining $1.6 million will be split between no more than eight other festivals of purely “national significance.”

“We’ve got a very diverse array of film festivals in the U.K., achieving great results with relatively little funding,” commented UKFC chief exec 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 festival fund is on top of the UKFC’s existing budget. The Department of Culture also confirmed Thursday that the UKFC’s core government grant of £22.36 million ($44.5 million) will rise in line with inflation for the next three years.

The money is primarily used to fund the British Film Institute, plus the regional screen agencies and the UKFC’s finance, business affairs, communications and international departments.

This grant funding has been flat for seven years, and there were even some fears that it might be cut this time around, so the news that it will rise with inflation until 2010 is a significant boost for UKFC and the BFI.

It comes just two weeks after the government announced an extra $52 million for the UKFC to safeguard the future of the national film and TV archive.

The new coin for festivals, which was first flagged earlier this year, has already started to change the U.K.’s fest landscape. It was one of the factors that influenced Edinburgh’s decision to move its date from August to June, further away from the London fest in October. This fits better with the UKFC’s strategy to support two complementary rather than competing international events.

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