Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Cinéphilia West

Whilst I don't want this blog to become yet another outlet for obituaries, it's definitely worth passing on the very sad news that Cinéphilia West - I welcomed their exhibition of Polish film posters here - has been forced to close.

An edited version of their announcement, which you can read in full on the site:

The short story is that our ex-partner and landlord, Mr Amin Taha, has reneged on an existing agreement to enter into a new lease, at market rate, at our premises at 171 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, and has re-taken possession of the premises with a view to sell the entire building as vacant and without an existing tenant in situ. As Cinéphilia West was occupying the premises under a temporary arrangement ahead of the formal execution of a long-term lease we have no choice but to cease operation there and seek alternative premises for our business. This is with immediate effect, as no notice was given but bailiffs imposed to re-possess the premises, leaving us completely exposed to the damage to our reputation as though the business itself was not viable or successful, which it was, and giving the impression that we are in any way at fault, which we are not. We have been torpedoed by a very unscrupulous man, but do not have the substantial means to challenge his behaviour through legal channels, despite having the full force of the law in our favour.

As you can see, this isn't any failure on their part but - well, I suppose I'd have to be careful to word this in a non-actionable manner!

Perversely, I hope that the landlord has a real buyer: it would be doubly annoying if it stays empty after he'd been persuaded to "put it on the market" by some over-enthusiastic estate agent.

Thankfully, undeterred, they're looking for new premises and asking for suggestions. The alliteration and assonance of Cinéphilia South would appeal to me - let alone the improved proximity.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Farewell, UKFC


If culture was hoping for a stay of execution until October’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), yesterday it was disappointed. 55 organisations chopped or merged, the most high-profile demise being the UK Film Council.

The UKFC bestrode a huge – perhaps unbridgeable – field. Simultaneously making the economic, cultural and educational cases probably proved an unmasticateable mawful, and in film funding it often tried to make sure the toast fell jam-side up, with minority shares in semi-bankable projects.

Their First Light fund successfully supported young filmmakers but there’s little for experimental and artists’ film: Nowhere Boy and Hunger, whatever they are, aren’t cutting-edge and arguably Taylor-Wood and McQueen could have found their money elsewhere. And the UKFC wasn’t interested in gallery video art.

Not that that’s necessarily bad: The senior management’s background was overwhelmingly commercial, and wisely chose to channel money to organisations who knew the subject. But there was precious little of it.

The BFI used some to programme and release on DVD artists’ films, and even commission installations from people including Mat Collishaw and the Wilson Twins. Then there’s the Independent Cinema Office, onedotzero and others servicing (usually) slightly different groups. The Digital Innovation in Film programme (co-funded by NESTA – relatively safe under its endowment) helped some small (and not so small) companies.

Beyond that are bodies largely or wholly independent of the UKFC. Having been kicked around far too much in past years LUX, with its superb archive of artists’ films is an ACE client – though they’ve also been helped by UKFC. does some great work with precious little. There are galleries such as the Tate and the (possibly, still troubled) ICA and publisher/distributors like Wallflower Press. Outside London, though, the picture is patchier.

So how might the UKFC’s demise affect artists who work in film? At the moment it’s hard to say, but the temptation is to say “not much”. Their money – when they have it – comes from elsewhere.

So, we still await the CSR…

Thanks to axisweb, which commissioned this piece and ran it here