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31/10/2003

Minghella sets out vision for bfi

bfi Chairman Anthony Minghella has made an impassioned plea for a revitalised British Film Institute.
Speaking at the opening night of The Times bfi London Film Festival, at the screening of the Jane Campion film 'In the Cut', Minghella said:
"The job of the bfi is a profoundly important one. The advocacy and interpretation of cinema from Britain and other countries which otherwise might be denied the attention of audiences throughout the United Kingdom. By this I mean the rogue voices of British cinema, the independent voices, the forgotten voices, the voices from the past and from world cinema that might otherwise drown under the incessant demands of Hollywood and its irresistible machine of promotion and dissemination.
"I've been the beneficiary of that machine and am grateful to it, but I am also the product of an era which enjoyed a robust bfi in London and in the regions, where repertory cinema flourished and through which I learned while at university in Yorkshire, of the beautiful and complex worlds created by Fellini, Kurosawa, Ray, Visconti, Truffaut, de Sica, Lean and Bunuel.
"Right now the domination of the commercial cinema is unacceptable. Provocative cinema is in danger of being ignored, forgotten or suppressed. And the bfi must be its champion. It must be a welcome home for films in a foreign language, for British audiences who may speak a foreign language in their homes, for young audiences who are seeing Kieslowski or Keaton for the first time not the twentieth, for directors who want to have their say away from the committees and focus groups of the mainstream cinema. It should celebrate the old cinema and the new technologies. It should have a flagship cinemateque with the best screen and sound in Britain and not be holding its gala night in somebody else's cinema, or its party in the halls of another cultural activity."
Minghella added: "What I hope for the bfi is that it can convert the genuine excitement generated by this annual total film experience (the LFF) into a year round and national event, and that we can take the class out of classic cinema and the anorak off its shoulders. These films are for everybody regardless of social territories, colour or creed. And they're not spinach, they're not just good for us. Although they are good for us.
"The bfi's job put simply is to love cinema, to contextualise it, and to make its treasures available not only for these few days invading the West End, not only in our home at the NFT on the South Bank but also in South Shields and Southwold and South Wales."
(GB)
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