UPDATE: I wrote this rant a few months ago in response to these comments by David Cameron. Since then our beloved (ha!) government has made some positive noises about how they plan to expand the British film industry. Obviously they should be commended for pouring money in to such a thriving home grown industry, but I still have my reservations about what effect such obvious commercialization could have for our independent film makers. Especially under the Tories.
Oh, and despite how it comes across; I actually really like the Harry Potter films!
Does David Cameron want our films to “go mainstream” because he fears the British Film Industry?
It’s a disgrace that David Cameron can sit and speak with such pride about British films after slashing the budget of the BFI and removing UKFC. It’s even more of a disgrace for him to claim that British funding should “focus on the mainstream”, especially when filmmakers such as Lynne Ramsay, Mike Leigh and Shane Meadows are bringing such international acclaim. His attitude must therefore be considered as either ignorance, or as a politically motivated move. After all, how can you predict what will be successful or not?
When he talks about “mainstream” is he talking in terms of economic impact, or is he talking about films that portray a Britain that doesn’t really exist. A Britain where Hugh Grant is constantly charming, the Royal Family are heroes with stutters and wizards attend boarding school. What about the Full Monty? Financially successful, Oscar nominated even, but featuring a plot revolving around the destruction of British industry. Would David Cameron approve of such an honest portrayal of problems (especially as they were introduced by his own party) just because it was financially successful?
Take two more examples. Ratcatcher (by Lynne Ramsay) portrays the appalling conditions of a 1970s Glasgow and This Is England (by Shane Meadows) explores the rise of the far-right National Front movement during the 1980’s. Despite the fact these movies have reignited foreign recognition towards British artistry, they do not represent the picture-postcard view of our country David Cameron seeks to sell. Is this what he is really attacking? By “going mainstream” does he seek to rob certain Britishness from our art? This is an ironic move for a government that loves to scaremonger about British identity loss.
With rising unemployment, social realism is likely to become a prime concern for British film makers once again. Maybe this is what Cameron really fears. That someone will come along, point a camera, and betray his lies about fairness and social commitment. Someone who shows the devastating impact his cuts have been having on this country and someone who immortalises him forever as an unjust and idiotic buffoon.