Government review recommends film lessons plan to boost industry


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Indy Politics

Film lessons in schools and more screenings outside big towns and cities are among the proposals put forward in a new report to help the UK movie business take advantage of "a golden period" in its history.

Among the 56 proposals in the government-commissioned review are calls for more investment in training, "a strong commitment to combat piracy" and the setting up of a British Film Week to focus attention on the industry.

It also proposes a programme to "bring film education into every school" and a scheme to bring projectors and screens to village and community halls.

Former Labour cabinet minister Lord Smith, who chaired the review, said: "British film is going through a golden period. A run of British-made and British-based movies has been taking audiences around the world by storm. But we cannot be complacent - this review highlights the things that the BFI, Government and industry can do to ensure that we continue to build on recent successes."

He said the industry was in a "prime position" to contribute to the economy and offer "attractive and fulfilling careers for young people".

The report, which was put together by a panel including Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, called for more to be done to "re-establish the brand of British film".

It asked the Big Lottery Fund to "consider" joining the BFI in paying for "a programme of assistance for local film clubs and societies in areas of rural deprivation or isolation, including the provision of screening facilities for village and community halls" to make sure people living outside big cities were able to see a wide range of films.

Lord Smith said: "There is something about the communal experience of a big screen that is very different from simply sitting in your living room in front of your TV."

He said too many young people were unaware of the history of British film and said there needed to be "a single offer" of film education in schools.

He said: "There is a very rich heritage of film and film making here in the UK and yet at the moment pupils coming through school don't learn very much about that and we want to give them that opportunity."

The former Culture Secretary called on broadcasters ITV and Sky to do more to invest in films and said the Government would sit down with both later this year to discuss the issue and warned legislation, committing broadcasters to support the industry, could be brought in.

The panel also called on the Government to make it a criminal offence to "record films shown in cinemas".

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said the Government would publish its response to the report later this year.

Film-maker Lord Puttnam, who is president of the Film Distributors' Association, said he hoped the review would "trigger a series of bold new steps in embedding the role of film in education".

He said: "The report's clear message that everyone should have the opportunity to engage with film, and that watching, exploring, understanding and creating film is important for young people and the audience as a whole, is as admirable as it is welcome."

Director general of the British Video Association (BVA) Lavinia Carey said the review was "an important first step in assuring the future of the British film industry".

She said investing in skills and encouraging better broadband access was important, but it was "imperative" copyright law was protected.

Ms Carey said: "British films dominated the UK video entertainment chart in 2011. Without being able to rely on this income, those films would not have been made."

Harriet Harman, shadow culture, media and sport secretary, said the Government had to "ensure that the next generation of film-makers learn the skills they need in secondary school, further education and higher education".

She said: "In an increasing digital age, Britain needs to move with the times.

"Providing for education in film will broaden every child's education, helping to build the audiences of the future and nurture the talent which will sustain it."