Lottery goes into the blockbuster business

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The Independent Online
The first clutch of films to be given lottery funding by the Arts Council include a blockbuster called Crimetime starring two actors from The Usual Suspects, the Independent can reveal.

The Arts Council will announce on Thursday that it is financing five or six films, from Hollywood-style blockbusters to art-house 15-minute shorts, costing pounds 2.3m.

The move follows legal advice that films can be considered "capital expenditure" by the lottery distribution body. It is forbidden from giving money to any other kind of project.

A second constraint is that it can only fund films which are for the "public benefit". However, it has decided to take an extremely broad view of what defines public benefit.

The decision to fund Crimetime, which is understood to have won pounds 300,000 towards its pounds 4m cost, was made last week at a meeting of the Arts Council board where a total of 11 film projects were discussed.

The film is a psychological thriller about the way crime and violence, as portrayed on television, can affect the personality. It is presently being filmed in Britain and is directed by George Sluizer.

The successful film proposals have been expected to show some form of financial support, like distribution deals or funding, from other sources such as Channel Four. Another requirement is that they are mainly filmed in Britain, ideally with British leads.

Crimewatch meets this requirement because it stars the British actor Pete Postlethwaite, star of In The Name of the Father and of The Usual Suspects, and Charlotte Baldwin, who was in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

A second project which is understood to have won funding is a 15-minute film.

The Arts Council sees the 12 months to March 1996 as a pilot year during which it will assess its policy.

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