The BFI has announced an additional £500,000 of National Lottery funding specifically to support the distribution of independent international films to UK audiences.  

Administered by the BFI Audience Fund and set to sit alongside the recently launched Global Screen Fund, this welcome assistance is intended to encourage the wider distribution of foreign language films in the UK. The fund was developed in consultation with several industry representatives including the FDA and the UK Cinema Association (UKCA).

As the exhibition and distribution sectors rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic and audiences return in greater numbers, this support will help expand the pipeline of available films. Purposely aimed to boost cinema audience choice and screen diversity across the country, the fund will provide timely support in bringing new and exciting international films to UK cinemagoers.

Commenting on the announcement, Andy Leyshon, Chief Executive of the Film Distributors’ Association said:

“This additional BFI support specifically for distribution comes at a welcome time, as we emerge from the last 16-months of market interruptions. UK distributors have a long-established tradition of successfully releasing foreign language films, indeed this was the only box office growth area for cinemas in 2020. Clearly UK audiences desire ever more on-screen diversity, and this funding should help sate that demand in cinemas. Hopefully, this support will also be able to continue and increase in value beyond this year for the long-term sustainability of the independent distribution and exhibition sector.”

Foreign language films were the only growth area at the UK box office in 2020, posting a year-on-year rise in receipts of 25%. A varied list of titles was released, led by Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, with the likes of Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering with You and Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables all achieving excellent results.

The BFI Audience Fund has supported an average of six foreign language titles a year in the UK since its launch in 2017. Films include: A Fantastic Woman, And Then We Danced, Minari, Parasite, Shoplifters and the forthcoming Night of the Kings.

Further details for distributors looking to apply are available at: bfi.org.uk/audience-fund

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