Director slams Film Council plans
Acclaimed film-maker Mike Leigh has joined arts organisations in condemning "shocking" Government plans to scrap the UK Film Council - the body which supports the British movie industry.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to axe the organisation, whose remit also includes nurturing UK film talent at home and abroad, to ensure "greater value for money".
But Leigh, whose credits include Happy-Go-Lucky and Vera Drake, said of the announcement: "It's very shocking indeed and it's from left of field in a very sudden and devastating way."
He told the Press Association: "It's remarkable and extremely worrying. It's very hard to know what they are actually going to sustain and what they will abandon...
"It really is no way to operate."
Leigh said the announcement had come "out of the blue" as far as the film industry was concerned, saying: "It's like if they suddenly said: 'We're abolishing the NHS'... It's totally out of order."
Lord Puttnam, the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire producer, who was speaking as president of the Film Distributors' Association, also said the announcement "would appear to have come out of the blue".
He said it "will take some time to digest fully" adding: "Over the past decade, the Film Council has been a layer of strategic glue that's helped bind the many parts of our disparate industry together.
"It is sure to be widely missed, not least because the UK cinema industry is in the midst of a fundamental transformation at the heart of which is digital roll-out."
The UK Film Council was created in 2000, and has invested more than £160 million of Lottery funding into more than 900 films which has helped generate over £700 million at the worldwide box office.