Letter: Self-preservation in the cinema

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am fully supportive of our film industry's campaign to secure investment by American distributors and exhibitors in British film production ('A new Golden Age of cinema', 21 March). That is not to say, however, that I think the measures proposed will do much to preserve our national culture.

It obviously makes sense for Britain to be the principal base for American production in Europe. We speak their language - or, rather, they speak ours - and we also have the necessary facilities and skills. It will not matter much to a government that has just countenanced the sale of our motor industry to Germany that the decisions about what films are

to be made here will be taken in Hollywood.

It will need a more interventionist policy truly to protect a product which - to a greater degree than that of any other manufacturing industry - has the potential to proclaim our national identity to the world. What is needed is legislation to increase our home market for British films.

Such a mechanism used to exist in the form of the 'Eady' Levy (abolished 1985) - by which a small proportion of the price of every ticket sold went to augment the takings of British and other European films, according to their commercial success. Our present troubles stem from the Government's decision to abolish the levy, and some such mechanism will have to be reinstated if the national character of our films is going to be preserved.

Yours faithfully,

MICHAEL RELPH

London, NW1

22 March

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