Sundance: British Film Institute Helps U.K. Pix Reach Out to U.S. Audiences

'Lilting,' 'God Help the Girl,' '20,000 Days on Earth' to receive U.S. distribution boost

LONDON — The British Film Institute has launched a pilot scheme to help U.K. films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival attract theatrical distribution and reach wider audiences in the U.S.

Three films are eligible for funding from the pilot U.S. Distribution Fund: Hong Khaou’s “Lilting,” the opening film in Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition; Stuart Murdoch’s “God Help the Girl,” premiering in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s drama-documentary featuring artist and musician Nick Cave, “20,000 Days on Earth,” premiering in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

The scheme is launching as a pilot and is initially limited to British films without U.S. distribution that are world premiering in official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and have a production budget less than £2 million ($3.3 million).

The BFI will make awards of up to £25,000 ($41,200) per eligible film available to U.S. distributors to enable them to throw more weight behind the marketing campaigns for the theatrical release, and in particular support the promotion of U.K. film talent to U.S. audiences.

BFI Film Fund director, Ben Roberts, commented: “We know the U.K. is consistently producing films that wow audiences and critics at A-list festivals around the world, but in a competitive international market some of these excellent films can nevertheless struggle to secure that all-important U.S. distribution, which can do so much to showcase U.K. talent to cinema audiences and critics in the States. The point of this pilot is to see if we can help to change that.”

The BFI’s international strategy recognizes the significance of export to the U.K. film economy, and has identified the U.S. as a growth region, and a “tier one” priority for British film, alongside China and Brazil.

The BFI’s U.S. Distribution Fund pilot aims to increase U.K. exports, promote British talent in the U.S. and help level the playing field with international P&A support already attached to local product from countries including France, Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Russia and Germany.

The rules of the U.S. Distribution Fund are as follows:

The distributor will only be eligible to apply to the BFI U.S. Distribution Fund if it acquires one of the three eligible films within three months of its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and intends to release the film theatrically in the U.S. (with screenings in a minimum of five of the top
25 EDI U.S. markets) within 12 months of the acquisition.

Applications will need to be made to the BFI by the U.S. distributor at least 14 weeks before the film’s U.S. release date. The application form will require the U.S. distributor to set out its marketing and release plan for the film, including the proposed P&A budget (inclusive of the requested award from the BFI).

The maximum funding available per film will be the lower of £25,000 ($41,200) or an amount equal to 50% of the total distribution costs of the theatrical release. The award itself will need to be spent on publicity and advertising costs (including talent travel and associated publicity costs) and/or prints, DCP production and associated costs.

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