Actors condemn Film Council's end

Image caption, The Oscar-nominated In The Loop was backed by the Film Council

Leading actors have attacked plans to axe the UK Film Council as part of a cost-cutting drive by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

More than 50 actors have written a joint letter to the Daily Telegraph saying the move will damage the "backbone" of Britain's film industry.

They cite the council's funding as crucial for films such as In the Loop, This is England and Gosford Park.

The council had an annual budget of £15m to invest and employed 75 people.

Signatories to the letter include James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite, Timothy Spall and Sir Ian Holm.

The joint letter reads: "We all owe any success we have had in our acting careers, to varying degrees, to films supported by the UK Film Council.

"But it is not out of personal gratitude that we are dismayed that the UKFC is facing the axe; it is because we fear the impact on the British film industry as a whole.

"It is our camera crews, lighting experts, set builders and a whole host of other skilled people who give our film industry such an edge.

"Their expertise and experience, which the UKFC has done so much to foster, is the main reason why so many top Hollywood directors choose to make films here in Britain.

"We should think long and hard about getting rid of one of the major factors behind a great British success story."

The council was set up in 2000 and has put more than £160m of Lottery funding into about 900 films.

As he announced the plans, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wanted to establish a "direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute".

He says this would support front-line services while ensuring greater value for money.

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