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Saturday, 25 August, 2001, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Film minister issues 'ghetto' warning
Welsh film graphic
UK film minister Kim Howells has warned the Welsh film industry against creating a "ghetto mentality".

Mr Howells, the MP for Pontypridd, wants the industry to take its lead from the commercial lead of Hollywood.

The minister said he was against any attempts to make it an overtly Welsh industry, urging leading figures to open it up and run it like a business.

What I do not want to see is film-making in Wales becoming some kind of regional ethnic ghetto, where you have films which you expect to get on some arts circuit

Kim Howells, Minister for film

He warned he would try to stop efforts to project "art house" images of "racial purity" in Wales through films.

But Assembly Culture Minister Jenny Randerson said Mr Howells' comments were "pretty extraordinary".

Ms Randerson said the minister had not even discussed details of the assembly's film fund for Wales.

Mr Howells told BBC Wales he was against overtly Welsh films.
Human Traffic, John Simm, actor
Human Traffic: A commercial success story

"That paranoia about not being defined as Welsh or the idea that there is some kind of racial purity about it is just facism really, I hate it and I will do everything I can to prevent it.

"What I do not want to see is film-making in Wales becoming some kind of regional ethnic ghetto, where you have films which you expect to get on some arts circuit."

Mr Howells added: "Hollywood treat it not as something precious, but as an industry."

But Berwyn Rowlands, the chief executive of media company Sgrin, says Mr Howells's vision of an industry producing car chase films would not work.

Kim Howells, Film and culture minister
Kim Howells: 'Paranoia'
"In Wales, we should look at how we can perfect a way of not following the Hollywood model, because I do not think that is desirable," said Mr Rowlands.

"The real issue is having a quality product and investing time and money into the development stage, so when you have completed the film, the distributor will be happy with the product."

Ms Randerson said Mr Howells had failed to understand the assembly' vision for the Welsh film industry.

"I find his comments pretty extraordinary, because it is a topic he has never discussed with me, so he does not know what we have in mind at all," said Ms Randerson.

"The film fund is something that will provide the economic stimulus for more film-making.

'Welsh cultural stamp'

"It will encourage a number of different types of film, using Welsh technicians and locations, but the film could be something that has nothing to do with Wales.

Ms Randerson added: "We do have subsidy for film but the important thing is that we produce good films that people want to watch.

"There is no reason why we should not make films that have nothing to do with Wales. But I do hope among them there will be films about Wales or that have a Welsh cultural stamp on them."

See also:

01 Nov 00 | Wales
Assembly's review of the arts
08 Apr 01 | Wales
Royals are 'bonkers' says MP
25 Apr 00 | UK Politics
DIY minister injures finger
28 Jun 00 | Wales
New arts body on cards
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