Roberts role to bring together all sides of org

Protagonist Pictures CEO Ben Roberts, who has been tapped as director of the British Film Institute Film Fund, has an enormous job on his hands when he takes up the reins.

The appointment, announced by the BFI on Monday, sees Roberts take charge of the public funding org’s purse — the biggest in Blighty — with a total annual budget of more than £21 million ($33.3 million) from national lottery coin.

In the newly expanded role, Roberts will bring together development, production, distribution and exhibition for the first time. Tanya Seghatchian, who ankled in September, headed production and development funding while industry stalwart Pete Buckingham, who left in November, dished out coin for distribution and exhibition.

Roberts’ start date has yet to be announced but sources suggest that the bizzer, who is widely respected in U.K. film circles with a breadth of strong filmmaker relationships, will start sometime this summer.

In the immediate future, Roberts has yet to map out his exit from Protagonist, which is already looking for a replacement for sales exec Charlotte van Weede, who ankled this year.

In a statement, Roberts remarked that “there was really only one job that could entice me away from Protagonist.”

At Protagonist since 2007, Roberts has overseen a range of sales and releases for Brit pics including “Streetdance 3D,” “Submarine” and “Kill List.”

His previous roles include VP of worldwide acquisitions at Universal Intl. Pictures and he also ran theatrical distribution and acquisitions for indie distrib Metrodome.

Sources indicate that Roberts was one of few candidates who made the final rounds of interviews. Other contenders were believed to have included Daniel Battsek, Marc Samuelson and Neil Peplow.

Roberts, at 36, could inject the kind of fresh and dynamic energy the BFI needs as it takes shape as the U.K.’s national film body.

“I am thrilled that Ben is joining us to lead the BFI Film Fund at this important time for film in the U.K.,” said BFI chief exec Amanda Nevill. “His experience reflects the future demands on this new role, combining creative flair with a very strong audience and market sensibility.”

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