Entertainment & Arts

UK Film Council boss quits over cuts

Gemma Arterton in Tamara Drewe
Image caption Gemma Arterton's movie Tamara Drewe was funded by the UK Film Council

The head of the UK Film Council has resigned, saying the job was a "privilege" until the moment he learned the organisation was being scrapped.

Chief executive John Woodward will leave the council in November.

Chairman Tim Bevan said that, under Woodward's watch, the organisation had backed a "succession of successful films and film-makers".

Announcing the closure in July, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it would ensure "greater value for money".

Since then, dozens of leading film-makers, including Mike Leigh, Clint Eastwood and Bill Nighy have written to the government protesting the decision.

One letter, sent to the Daily Telegraph and signed by more than 50 actors including Liam Neeson and Emily Blunt, said the move would damage the "backbone" of Britain's film industry.

In a statement posted on the UK Film Council website, Mr Woodward said: "For the next few weeks the UK Film Council is in a dialogue with the Government about the future support structures for UK film.

"By choosing to make my position clear now, I can be objective and unconflicted throughout that process.

"I can't adequately say what a privilege it has been to serve the British film industry since 2000 - and I enjoyed every minute of it up until 5.35pm on 24 July this year. I am proud of what the UK Film Council and its staff have delivered over the past decade.

"But now is the time to focus only on the future and ensure that whatever takes the place of the UK Film Council builds on its considerable achievements and retains the professionalism and expertise that the industry has said that it wants."

In response, culture minister Ed Vaizey said: "John Woodward has been a committed champion of British film for more than a decade and I wish him every success.

"I will continue to work closely with the UK Film Council and the wider film industry over the autumn to determine how the significant public investment in film is best used in the future."

The Film Council, founded in 2000, had an annual budget of £60 million to invest in British films and employs 75 people.

At the time of the announcement in July, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said film funding would continue but would be distributed through other bodies.

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