Industry gathers at BFI Southbank to toast the week-old ‘new era for film.’

The so-called ‘good and the great’ of the UK film industry were at the BFI Monday night for wine, sausage rolls, pre-Cannes gossip and a toast to the ‘new’ BFI and five new governors of its board. BFI Director Amanda Nevill officially declared: “The new BFI is open for business.”

BFI Chairman Greg Dyke made a few comments, and noted that in the current economic climate with arts funding under the gun, “We’re lucky at the BFI to be at the start of something new and exciting. You could almost describe us as the new BFI.”

He noted that “the new era for film is now 7 days old” as about 40 former employees of the now-abolished UK Film Council have now become BFI employees as of April 1. The only issue noted publicly about that reorganisation effort was a reference to “horrendous IT issues” (last night’s flickering lighting was hopefully a one-off).

But for the good news, the BFI was yesterday touting its new £2m transition fund to help organisations involved in film who might have a tough year ahead because of the economic climate.

BFI director Amanda Nevill noted that changes had already been coming at “warp speed” and there was no time to waste in moving the new organisation forward.

Dyke noted: “In coming months we’re planning a major review of what the BFI does and what the film industry needs. It will be a genuine consultation, not one of those things we’ve seen before,” he said (triggering some nervous laughter in the room).

Nevill said that the consultation timeline will be announced at the end of May. “This is the start of a great conversation with will take place over the next nine months that will help us build a bold new plan.”

Another issue to be discussed in coming months is what Nevill calls the “risk” of brining the reseearch and statistics unit (formerly of the UKFC) into the BFI without funding in place for that unit. Nevill confirmed that the usual RSU yearbook will be published later this year, but after that more funding — with a commercial partner or a public-private partnership — will have to be secured.