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Wednesday, 4 August, 1999, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Evita director heads film council
jonathon pryce, madonna and antonia banderas
Parker is probably best-known for his all-star musical Evita
Award-winning British film director Alan Parker has been named the first chairman of the new Film Council.

Mr Parker, 55, famous for films Evita, Bugsy Malone and The Commitments, will take up the post immediately, quitting his current position as chairman of the British Film Institute.

Starting next April, the Film Council will be the new umbrella body for film policy in Britain.

alan parker
Parker: "I have a reputation for being difficult"
It will have more than 145m of public and lottery money to invest in the British movie industry during Mr Parker's three-year appointment.

Mr Parker's job will be to develop a "cohesive strategy" for boosting the film industry in the UK, of which he has been an outspoken critic.

'I want to win audiences'

On Wednesday Mr Parker said he was "delighted" by the unpaid, part-time post.

"It is a very challenging task but I am looking forward to working with a strong board to lay the foundations of a film industry which is sustained in the long-term by talent and the ability to win audiences," he said.

julia roberts at notting hill premier
Parker has called for British film quotas in multiplexes
"For the first time there is an opportunity to review the entire government-backed film funding programme.

"It will be the role of the Film Council to strike a careful balance between the needs of the British film industry whilst championing the educational and cultural values of film in Britain."

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said Mr Parker had an impressive record.

"Alan's wealth of experience and many achievements show he is the right person to lead the Film Council in its job of helping the British film industry build on its many strengths and go on to further successes in the future," he said.

'High profile in US'

The appointment was welcomed from within the industry by Notting Hill and Four Weddings producer Duncan Kenworthy.

Robert Carlyle
His next film, Angela's Ashes, will star the Full Monty's Robert Carlyle
"Alan is a heavyweight in the industry. I think he will knock heads together and that's what we want," he said.

"He has a profile, not just here, but in the United States, which will stand him in good stead when he goes to represent the British film industry internationally and in Hollywood."

The chairman is the first appointment to be announced for the Film Council, which will number about 50 staff at full strength.

It will take over National Lottery film distribution from the Arts Council of England and oversee the work of the British Film Institute and British Film Commission.

Mr Parker once said: "I have a reputation for being...difficult," and dismissed the BFI as "28 intellectuals in a library".

Broadcaster and writer Joan Bakewell will take over as interim chairman of the British Film Institute, while a new chairman is sought.

See also:

02 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Madonna joins tribute to director Parker
07 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Boost for children's films
19 May 99 | Entertainment
Cannes boost for UK films
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