The NFT's meant to be litist

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WILF Stevenson, the BFI's director, says he has no sympathy with the "litist and patronising approach in earlier years" at the NFT (Letters, 30 April). I was a governor of the BFI for six years and attended every meeting at which the NFT came up. My recollection is that the governors were anxious to increase attendance, particularly after criticism by the National Audit Office, but did not intend to institutionalise the regular glorification of some of the world's worst films or the transformation of the NFT into a second-run cinema screening films concurrently showing in the commercial chains. It is not just its uniqueness which should keep it essentially an litist cinema, it is also its duty under its royal charter to do so. It derives solid fiscal benefits as a charitable institution for its patronage of what the charter calls "the art of cinema". If it intends to become, as it were, merely popular rather than discriminating and scholarly, it will face a decline in its status and maybe in its public funding, too.

Alexander Walker

London W9

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