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Director of BFI Film Fund promises new era of fairness in film funding decisions

Ben Roberts said: “I am putting processes in place to make sure no-one is able to shake someone’s hand behind a closed door and offer them some money.

The director of the BFI Film Fund – responsible for £21m of public money annually -  has promised a new era of transparency in the way funding is distributed while defending the need to make funding decisions “based on instinct.”

Giving his keynote address at the Film London Production Finance Market, Director of the Film Fund Ben Roberts sought to assure financiers and funding producers that funding decisions were debated and minuted robustly, in an attempt to differentiate the BFI with the perception of cronyism that grew around the now debunked UK Film Council.

The former CEO of Protagonist Pictures who took on the job in March this, is responsible for deciding how an annual £21m of funding from the National Lottery will be used to bring new British films to the screen.

But Roberts defended the BFI Film Fund team’s need to make decisions on which films should be deserving of public-backing “based on our instincts.”

He said: “That always creates difficult arguments. But it isn’t one person making the decisions. It’s quite a large editorial team who spend a lot of time in meetings.  There is a lot of internal argument. ”

“I am putting processes in place to make sure no-one is able to shake someone’s hand behind a closed door and offer them some money. It will all happen in minuted meetings, as should be the case with public money. I don’t subscribe to favouritism or mates.

“Obviously, if there is a sense that you are making very unfair decisions, then this industry is very vocal about that,” he added.”

He announced it would soon be track the organisations funding decisions – and reasons for doing-so – on a new BFI website.

To read more about Ben’s plans for the BFI Film Fund, read our our in-depth interview with him in movieScope 31.

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