'Loaded' founder attacks London film bodies over cancelled movies

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The Independent Culture

The London film industry has been accused of being "arrogant and small-minded" and of deliberately undermining a Liverpool arts festival by preventing movies being shown.

James Brown, the founding editor of Loaded magazine, said his attempts to organise screenings for Liverpool's Orange Bright Day festival had repeatedly been thwarted.

The British Film Institute (BFI) and the London Film Festival had vetoed his attempts to show a series of music-related films, leading to cancellations at today's festival.

He said: "It's just arrogant and absolutely small-minded. What is the point of having a BFI funded by the Government, that we pay our taxes to, if we cannot see the films?" He said the BFI had denied him the rights to show Performance, starring Mick Jagger, despite support for the screening from Nic Roeg, the co-director of the 1970 cult classic.

The film, which has been described as "the best British film ever made", was due to be shown at the festival tonight.

Mr Brown said the BFI had refused the screening even though he had found a print outside the institute.

Margaret Deriaz, the BFI's distribution development officer, said: "In 2002-2003 over 400,000 people in the UK saw BFI-held films and two-thirds of them live outside London. Our regional work is very strong." The BFI's print of Performance would not be available until next year when the film would be re-released. The Liverpool festival has cancelled its star attraction, A Mighty Wind, Christopher Guest's new "mockumentary" of a 1960s folk trio.

The London Film Festival, organised by the BFI, refused the screening as it is due to show the movie tonight at the Odeon West End for what is being billed as the British premiere.

Brown said the distributor Warner Brothers had been willing to allow the Liverpool screening, which would have begun an hour later, if the London festival had agreed.

Sandra Hebron, artistic director of the London Film Festival, said: "Warner Bros committed to holding the premiere screening at The Times BFI London Festival back in August when our programme was finalised."