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Toronto's Handling says it's a 'fine year' for British cinema

“It has been a very fine year for British cinema,” according to TIFF CEO Piers Handling, underlining the irony that just six weeks ago it was announced that the UKFC will close its doors, likely in 2012.

“Obviously something was working, and people were making the right decisions” Handling continues. “We even felt this was an exceptional year,” he says of a stellar British line-up of pictures at TIFF.

British films in the fest that are at least partially backed by the UK Film Council, include Mike Leigh’s Cannes hit Another Year, Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe, Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, Rowan Joffe’s Brighton Rock, John Madden’s The Debt and Andy De Emmony’s West Is West

“These are very vibrant films,” says Handling

Nonetheless, Handling isn’t. worried that British cinema will vanish with the Council. “They’ve said very clearly the funding will continue; it’s just not clear on how that funding will be dispersed,” he says. “So there’s no weakening in terms of the [U.K. government’s] commitment to the industry itself. They’re not taking the money away; they’re just taking the organization away.”

Handling offers that “I just hope that whatever replaces the UKFC, the people are sensitive to cinema, to the artists, to the market and continue to make the right funding decisions.”

It is still unclear how the U.K. will re-direct $25m (£15m) production funding when the UKFC closes in 2012.

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