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Film Festivals

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 26 February 2015

Film festivals make a valuable contribution to promoting the film economy and enhancing the cultural life of the UK. In addition to running two festivals of its own, the BFI, as the Government’s lead agency for film, provides £1 million of lottery funding each year to support film festivals right across the UK.

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. I am sure he will be aware that one festival the BFI helps to fund is the Glasgow film festival, the UK’s third largest and best festival, which is under way in Glasgow and is finishing on Sunday with the UK premier of “Force Majeure”. He has talked about the BFI funding, but given that the BFI’s grant in aid budget will be 10% lower next year than it was last year, what is he going to do to ensure that film festivals such as Glasgow’s continue to get that vital support?

Like the hon. Gentleman, I am delighted about the Glasgow film festival, which I believe is in its 10th year and which is going from strength to strength. He will know that it has received funding: it has been awarded £25,000 by the BFI this year, which is a good result. As well as the grant in aid funding, the BFI has access to lottery funding, which it is using wisely. That is partly reflected in the success of British film: just last year we had a record year of investment in British film and of success, and I am sure that he would join me in welcoming that.

Of course a Shropshire film festival would be very welcome indeed. Is the Secretary of State aware of a recent decision by Gapictures, which was due to film “Dracula” on location in Shropshire, to switch to another European country? Given that Shropshire has been home to many famous films, including, more recently “Atonement”, will the Secretary of State look at new ways in which the United Kingdom can keep those production companies that want to film in locations such as Shropshire, rather than have them switch to other European countries?

If my hon. Friend had auditioned, a different decision might have been made!

There has been an increase in the number of films made in the regions of the UK. “Dracula Untold” was recently made in Northern Ireland. We have had “Outlander” in Scotland, “Testament of Youth” in Yorkshire and “Far from the Madding Crowd”, which is set in Dorset, to name but a few, so there has been great success in regional films. What my hon. Friend says about Shropshire is quite right. There are some fantastic locations and there is some fantastic talent in Shropshire, and I think the film industry should be listening.

In a week when we have seen British success at the Oscars and London Fashion Week, and last night at the Brits, no one should be in any doubt about the importance of our film, fashion and music industries and all our creative industries. The basis of future jobs and investment in those creative industries depends on the protection of intellectual property. Will the Secretary of State ensure that, in consideration of the European digital single market, he will be absolutely vigilant to protect our creative industries, including small and medium-sized enterprises, and ensure that he rethinks the paper that the Prime Minister sent to Juncker, which would allow for changes that would pose a real threat to many independent projects? Will he insist that there is time for proper consultation before its implementation?

The right hon. Lady is right about the importance of intellectual property to our creative industries. One of the reasons why we have been successful in this area for many years is that as a Government we have taken the right approach. It is right that the EU looks at the issue. It will be a good thing in principle for the creative industries throughout Europe to have a better single digital market, but we must take a well-balanced approach. The paper that the right hon. Lady refers to was a discussion paper. The Government have not decided on their final policy or approach, and there should be more consultation.