You have hit the nail on the head. The festivals also play absurd box ticking games but, on balance, they are a better guide than the awards season for recognising genuine achievements. The top five charter selections for best director has an ominous look to it for other contenders in the prestigious awards categories. Four received nominations for best drama picture and best director at the Golden Globes and the other has obvious BAFTA street cred. In the truly amazing omissions category, it was disappointing that John Hawkes did not receive recognition for his supporting role in Winter Bone. If there was any justice, Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men) would have received a best actor nomination but it was never going to happen. The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo's inclusion in the non-English lang category (ahead of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and many more) lays bear the critical/commercial balancing act at play in the awards season genuinely. And rough justice for The Ghost (Writer), which should, at the very least, have received a best directors inclusion.
Comment on: Embracing change
A timely reminder also that we need greater focus upon film distribution. Soda Pictures excellent New British Quarterly Series provides a workable model for showcasing new innovative work from UK filmmakers. The aforementioned Skeletons was one of the most original and compelling UK films for some time and its inclusion in Soda's 2010 collection provided a key platform for building upon its Edinburgh succeeds. More schemes of this kind are essential.
Comment on: Falling Stars?
Perhaps the demand for originality will coincide with the deep sense of political dissatisfaction to produce something genuinely interesting that will perform in the multiplexes based on its merits instead of star or director power. More likely though, the so-called shift in favour of originality merely reflects the law of diminishing returns and sheer mind blowing boredom eventually kicking in following 30 years of lazy repetition rather than a more discerning audience. Expect more mainstream nonsense of a slightly different character replacing old nonsense with the only exceptions coming from those films that also perform in the independents.
And thereby lies the problem. There is no greater similarity between genuine art house films and commercial fare as between literary fiction and the airport bestseller. Unfortunately, though, art house films are dependent upon the infrastructure that the commercial sector provides and a sustainable film industry is as important to art house films as any other. This integral link between the two sectors notwithstanding completely different ambitions - one long term cultural gain and the other instant commercial profit - massively complicates the industry and its funding. There are no easy solutions but it is of paramount importance that we have an integrated policy that provides the necessary support to all parts of the industry.
On the contrary, UKFC appears to have acted in a professional and measured manner whilst prioritising the wider interests of the industry. The consequence of the d(r)aft proposed closure without alternative plans is uncertainty. Everybody knows that uncertainty equals risk, and speculation was inevitable that the major studios would mitigate against it by relocating elsewhere. The words 'clutching' and 'straws' spring to mind.