The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has been “catastrophic” for arthouse cinema in the country, according to Louisa Dent, the managing director of UK distributor and exhibitor Curzon Artificial Eye.

Speaking during the latest ScreenDaily Talks on Thursday July 1, Dent compared Brexit with the devastating financial impact of the pandemic on cinemas and distribution in the UK.

Watch the full session above.

“As much a problem as the pandemic is… just as bad for us is Brexit,” said Dent. “For a company like ours, which specialises in quality foreign-language arthouse, as well as British films, we now no longer have any EU money… This is catastrophic.”

Dent pointed to the support previously received through the Creative Europe Media Fund that backed distribution and P&A as well as its cinemas and online platform.

“We will have to see whether we can go on releasing the same sorts of fantastic films, that aren’t the most commercial films,” she warned. “I’ve never known the industry like this before in the UK. It’s very, very worrying for all of us.”

“We are seeing the Brexit effect happening,” said fellow panellist Christos Michaels, partner and head of film at law firm Lee & Thompson.

“I’ve seen less finance plans for official co-productions with Europe, which is a real shame. It’s the access to funding. It’s the practical difficulties of quarantine as well but I’m sure it’s to do with the changing world. [It’s also] labour, being able to get people onto these productions from other countries, which is disheartening to say the least.”

“At the same time, prices are going crazy,” added Dent of how streaming platforms and pay-TV firms are inflating the film acquisition market.

“Certain people are trying to come into the market and – as you do when you try to come into a market – are overpaying. What we won’t do is buy at two or three times what we feel is the right price to acquire a film and then lose money on it because that will be the end of the company. It’s a very precarious time and we’re being very cautious.”

The panel also including Rights Stuff founder and CEO Wendy Bernfeld and Ryan Kampe, founder and president of US firm Visit Films. It can be watched in full here.

The panel was hosted in partnership with We Are UK Film.