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17/10/2002

NI film industry concerned at loss of devolved Government

The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission, Colin Anderson, has warned that recent events in local government could have a serious impact on the local film industry.
Speaking at a Gala Event to mark the refurbishment of the Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast, Mr Anderson highlighted that the NIFTC had been working for the last two years to secure additional support for the film and television industry from local government. He said that the Commission believed they were very close to getting support from the Northern Ireland Executive. Plans had been assessed and received the support of four ministers, and had been independently endorsed in a full economic appraisal by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The Executive was due to take a decision on investing in the industry today, Thursday October 17, but following the recent suspension this decision appears to be in doubt.
Mr Anderson pointed out that although the sector has been underdeveloped for years and has suffered from the legacy of the ‘troubles’, there is "very significant potential" to build a successful film and television industry in Northern Ireland, but it needs investment underpinned by the public sector.
Mr Anderson revealed that he had written to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to ask him to support the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission in its bid "to become a significant player in what is undoubtedly the most powerful industry in the world."
Anderson also lamented that while as a result of imaginative and unstinting support from the Irish government, the industry in the Republic of Ireland has gone from strength to strength in recent years while, by contrast, "we are still digging the foundations in Northern Ireland."
However, Anderson praised the successes of the Northern Ireland industry, which, since 1997, has seen 16 feature films either entirely or partly located in Northern Ireland, compared with only five in the previous 50 years.
It is understood the NIFTC's proposals include a £9m production fund and an extra £2m for investment in local training and development.
A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said that the matter was currently under consideration by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Dr John Reid, and that details would be released as soon as a decision was taken.
(GB)
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