The British Film Institute has appointed Mia Bays as the new director of the BFI Film Fund, filling the role vacated last year by CEO Ben Roberts.
Bays is presently director-at-large at female-focused film charity Birds’ Eye View. She will take over the position in October for an initial three-year term, and will be based between London and Nottingham.
In the role – one of the most influential in the UK filmmaking scene – Bays will lead the strategic and cultural direction of the BFI’s investment of National Lottery funds into supporting UK feature film production.
That fund stands at about £30m per year – the largest public fund in the UK for film. The money is also used to support new and emerging talent through the BFI Network programme.
“I’m going to spend time listening (within and without the walls of the BFI), learning and reflecting on how the fund can be a dynamic and constructive part of a post-pandemic film movement,” said Bays. “I’m passionate about making film more inclusive and relevant to people who have felt excluded and unrepresented. My hand will be out for those people, with whom I identify.”
Bays has worked in the film industry for almost 30 years as a creative producer, distribution and sales strategist, cultural activist, curator and workshop leader, and was named a Screen International Star of Tomorrow in 2005 as a producer.
In 2017 she became director-at-large at Birds’ Eye View, which campaigns for gender equality in all film spaces and invests in UK releases of films by women with backing from the BFI Audience Fund. Bays will remain in a consultancy role with the charity, and intends to return there at the end of her fixed-term contract with the Film Fund.
Her credits as producer include Martin McDonagh’s Oscar-winning and Bafta-nominated short Six Shooter. Bays also served as creative producer from 2007 to 2014 on micro-budget film scheme Microwave, through Film London and BBC Film.
“We’re so thrilled that Mia is joining us to lead the Film Fund team,” said Roberts. “The Fund really could not be in better hands as we look to the future of the fund and build our next strategy. Mia has such a wealth of experience across production, curation and audience development, and I have immense admiration for her transformative work at Birds Eye View. She has been championing diversity and emerging talent throughout her career, so she will be a key driver of our commitment to creating the widest possible opportunities across the UK. Welcome Mia!”
“I mark 30 years in film this year, ” Bays added. ”What a way to celebrate and commence a new chapter. I’m both excited and terrified! I’m looking to continue as a changemaker and cultural agitator; this time bringing that energy and commitment within an institution with a long history, knowledge and passion for film, which I wholeheartedly share.”
Furthermore, Natascha Wharton and Lizzie Francke have been appointed to the new roles of head of editorial and editor-at-large respectively.
Farhana Bhula and Kristin Irving have been promoted to Wharton and Francke’s former positions as senior production and development executives; while Fiona Morham has taken on expanded responsibilities in her head of production role.