Following a decade of radical growth and seven acclaimed festivals, Birds Eye View will not be running a film festival in 2012, but will instead be working towards a sustainable plan for 2013 and beyond.
Over the past few years, the UK Film Council supported the Birds Eye View Film Festival through their Film Festivals Fund and Diversity Grant in Aid. Since the closure of the Film Council, funds have transferred to the BFI. As yet, there is no provision for either Festivals or Diversity, leaving BEV with a 90% drop in public funds.
The BFI remains committed to BEV, issuing the following statement: “The BFI absolutely endorses initiatives that promote diversity within the film industry and BEV’s achievements towards this have been immensely valuable. Having enjoyed a close working relationship with BEV since it launched we hope to continue working with them again in the future.” However, without committed funding, we cannot commit to the financial costs of running a Festival in 2012.
What will we do instead?
We will maintain activity in 2012 with screenings and events for our membership scheme, The Nest; by continuing to tour Sound & Silents across the UK, featuring new live scores for silent films by cutting edge female musicians including Grammy-winner Imogen Heap (supported by Arts Council England), and by holding our trademark Gala celebration of new talent on International Women’s Day at the BFI Southbank. In the meantime we will keep the focus on building a sustainable model for 2013 and beyond.
Why is BEV still important?
I am even more convinced of the value of BEV today than when I co-founded it in 2002. After a decade of hard work, with very little public investment, BEV has been built into something substantial, professional and effective. Over 400 industry professionals and audience took our recent consultation survey. 91% think the Festival worthy of public funding and 85% of those working in film think BEV contributes significantly to the industry, whilst 85% of those not in film feel that BEV makes a vital contribution to the cultural landscape of the UK. Similarly, 85% think BEV contributes significantly to gender equality.
But our work has only just begun: Women still make up fewer than 10% directors and 15% screenwriters in the UK. I am clearly not alone in recognizing the importance of this missing half of our creative vision. Our first event was seen by just 200 people; now over 18,000 join us at the Festival and on tour every year, and a further 650,000 via online and broadcast channels.
How can you help?
It would be nothing short of crazy to lose a decade’s worth of investment in a Festival so vital and with such high impact as BEV. But this is no time for complacency. We need all the support we can get to lobby effectively to ensure that, in this new era for British film, there is proper provision for Birds Eye View to continue leading the celebration of women filmmakers into 2013 and beyond.
If you haven’t already, please do consider joining The Nest, our membership scheme which keeps you closer to women filmmakers all year round, and which will become a focus for our activity over coming months.
Please also feel free to comment on this blog post with messages of support.
I’ll close with some lovely words from our supporters, as we strive onwards and into an exciting new era for Birds Eye View and women filmmakers across the globe. And as a reminder of the greatness of our 2011 Fest, you can watch this 3min video featuring Zoe Wanamaker, Rosamund Pike, Lucy Walker, Hayley Atwell, Annie Lennox and more.
“It’s truly impressive and empowering to see so many films by women around the world brought together in one place. Birds Eye View does such an essential job and is a highlight of my year.” – Lucy Walker, dir. Wasteland, Countdown to Zero, Blindsight
“Birds Eye View is inspiring a whole new generation of female writers and directors and has certainly inspired me. I’ve been amazed at Birds Eye View’s growth over the past decade and can’t wait to see what they come up with next”. – Joanna Hogg, dir. Archipelago, Unrelated
“This next few months are an important opportunity for us to find a sustainable way forward which maintains the excellence and innovation that have become a trademark of BEV. It is my privilege to lead BEV through this transition and I look forward to 2013 and beyond” – Elizabeth Karlsen, producer Made In Dagenham, BEV Chair