Saturday, 25 September 2010

Guardian Film Power 100 List: Hollywood Owns UK Film Culture Shocker!

The Guardian has just published its Film Power 100 list – a list of people who wield “the greatest influence on which films you get to see when you go to the cinema on a Saturday evening, or turn on the TV to catch a movie.”

Their methodology: “Our definition of power is this: the ability to shape the experience of film viewing in the UK. That means it's not just a list of British film figures. Nor is it a run-through of Hollywood moguls: everyone on our list has to have demonstrable influence within the UK.”

Montagu’s analysis:

So, who controls British film culture? The answer, unsurprisingly, is Hollywood. With the exception of Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, the top ten people are all Hollywood figures. Vaizey himself only made the list because he is currently deciding which British institution will be in charge of giving the government’s £30m subsidy to Hollywood after the abolition of the UK Film Council. Working Title producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner come in at number 12, which itself is a reflection of the need to orientate British films towards Hollywood and the American-dominated international market in order to be successful, which is basically what they do. The first figure who can make a genuine claim to be relatively independent of Hollywood is Danny Boyle who comes in at number 31. We have to get to 33 places down on the list before we see a British production company represented – Channel Four’s Commissioning Executive, Tessa Ross, which is a reflection of C4’s continuing and longstanding importance. At 36 we have Christine Langan, Commissioning Executive at BBC Films. Geoff Andrew, Head of Film programming at BFI Southbank is the only British Film Institute figure to make the list, which is, perhaps, surprising.

Will this influence Vaizey in his current negotiations? Probably not.

This is not really "news", but it is a problem. It's not a problem in reductively nationalist terms, which is how the national cinema issue often plays out - a cultural equivalent of the "British jobs for British workers" slogan. It's a problem because it demonstrates the extent to which the decisions about what people get to see in this country - and elsewhere - are determined by a tiny minority of distant, unaccountable power players. The Guardian Film Power 100 list is a reflection of a profoundly undemocratic film culture.

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