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BPX brainstorms funding issues

BPX (Best Practice Exchange), the new initiative that brings together heads of film agencies from around the world to brainstorm on “best practice in public funding for filmmaking,” has held its inaugural meeting.

The summit took place in Ein Gedi, Israel, from Feb 15-17, immediately after the Berlinale.

Participants at the event included such high profile figures as Peter Dinges (FFA / German Federal Film Board), Eric Garandeau (CNC / Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, France) and Ruth Harley (Screen Australia). Alongside the 20 senior Fund representatives, several producers were also in attendance.

BPX was set up by Simon Perry (president, ACE), Ronan Girre (CEO, ACE) and Katriel Schory (executive director of the Israel Film Fund). 

The scheme has received support from the EU’s Media Mundus programme which aims to foster global cooperation between EU and non-European professionals from the audiovisual industry.

At last week’s event in Israel, several key issues were identified by the fund heads. Among these was the “exploration and invention of new methods whereby public funding can intervene to enhance the distribution and exhibition – both theatrical and online – of independently produced films; and evaluation of strategies to intensify support for this purpose.”

“There was a very strong feeling around the table that support for distribution should be intensified,” Simon Perry commented of one issue raised by the delegates, who called for “fresh thinking about how to apply public money to assist distribution and to find more money for it.”

The Fund heads also assessed “the cumulative cultural, industrial and economic benefits that flow from film support regimes which comprise both selective and automatic funding.” 

Another subject on which a consensus emerged was “the cultural and social importance of ensuring a diversity of new films designed to interest and entertain young and very young audiences, and of film education programmes aimed at young people.”

The choice of Israel as location for the inaugural event proved contentious. Some fund heads and producers didn’t attend because of the Israel cultural boycott. Nonetheless, the organisers are now hoping to make BPX meetings a regular event.

At a time when independent producers are more dependent than ever on public funding to make their films, Perry argued that a global gathering of film agency heads should help establish common ground between the funders.

“We just thought we had better make sure we are getting the best heads together to make that public funding most effective,” Perry commented. “People thought it was successful. They all want to stay on board.” 

Other agencies have already offered to host the next BPX event which is now likely to happen on an annual basis, funding permitted.

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