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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Film archive set for overhaul
Anthony Minghella
Minghella won an Oscar for The English Patient

One of the world's largest film archives is set for a thorough overhaul as the British Film Institute (BFI) looks to ensure there is better public access.

Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, who has been appointed chair of the BFI, announced a comprehensive review of its activities would look at the National Film and Television Archive.

The archive in Herefordshire houses more than 150,000 films and 250,000 TV programmes dating back more than 100 years but less than half of this goes on show.

One focus will be on the size and scale of the archive and whether the BFI can justify acquiring further collections against its ability to manage and preserve them.

This invaluable national resource could be enjoyed by many more
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell

The review, which begins in June, coincides with the arrival of the new BFI director Amanda Nevill and follows a report by the National Audit Office which criticised the level of access to the archive.

It also pointed out the backlog of preservation work predicting films were at risk of being lost and urging it to address the problem.

But incumbent director Adrian Wootton recently gave assurances that despite the expense of restoring video and film "nothing is lost".


The National Film and Television Archive receives a 3.5m annual grant from the Film Council to store, catalogue and restore moving images.

The BFI has seen much of its powers stripped since the introduction of the Film Council, which now has responsibility for the public funding of films.

Speaking about the review, Minghella said: "In a period where there is increasing difficulty for audiences to enjoy world cinema and important films from the past in an informed context, the BFI's advocacy is a critical one.

"We want this review to help us formulate and deliver our full potential, reaching out to the widest audiences across the UK."

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said: "The BFI's assets and expertise have educated and entertained many. But this invaluable national resource could be enjoyed by many more."

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