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Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 06:25 GMT 07:25 UK
Film Council eyes the box office
The Full Monty
The Film Council will hope to repeat successes like The Full Monty
The Film Council has taken over sole responsibility for the public funding of films replacing organisations like the Arts Council and the British Film Institute.

It will be in charge of distributing more than 50m of lottery money a year - with the emphasis on making fewer, but more commercially successful films.

Its creation was partly in response to the criticism that, while subsidised British films may have artistic merit, they rarely make money.

We hope a good deal of those films will really connect with a broad audience

John Woodward
Film Council
But some are worried that the move will threaten the existence of British arthouse films.

John Woodward of the Film Council said they were aiming to use the public money to work with the private sector and make films that otherwise would not have been made.

"We hope a good deal of those films will really connect with a broad audience," he told BBC News 24.

Arthouse commitment

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said the idea was to get people who "lived, ate and breathed film" to make the decisions about where lottery money went into film.

But Tom Charity, film editor of the London magazine Time Out, was concerned about the move.

"I'm pretty sceptical about the commitment to arthouse films," he told BBC News 24.

Film critic Quentin Cooper doubts whether the Film Council will produce many more British box office successes.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith: Film experts should make the decisions
"I can see the good intentions behind this project, I don't think it's going to make a big difference to British film," he said.

Cooper said when you tried to come up with quotas for funding films, it did not tend to work.

"It's not like there's a shortage of film so why do you have to go to all this trouble to make more of something of which there is already an excess," Cooper said.

He said he had seen a British film recently that had Arts Council funding behind it which he found hard to justify.

"It's just not worth it, we don't need to be funding yet more films," Cooper said.

"What we need to be doing is spending the money at the grass roots level - more actors, more talent, more cinematographers, more special effects people. That would be a better use of it."

See also:

24 Mar 98 | film
Money makes the reel go round
02 May 00 | UK
22m boost for British films
14 Dec 98 | Entertainment
290m arts cash boost
05 Oct 98 | Entertainment
So you want to make movies?
22 Mar 99 | e-cyclopedia
Brit flicks: But are they really British?
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