No to BFI realignment

June 15, 2007

Following the letter by 48 film academics expressing concern about the future of the British Film Institute (Letters, June 1), readers should note that subsequent announcements confirm that the BFI is redefining its educational remit.

The BFI's envisaged outsourcing of its publishing arm constitutes merely one stage in a process of radical "realignment". This extends to a range of other activities and services, including the BFI Library, a core research and education facility, which could soon be closed or divested to a consortium of London-based higher education institutions.

This would fundamentally alter the library's status as a public national and international resource.

The institute has so far only selectively disseminated its plans in detail - for more information, visit www.bfiwatch.blogspot.com

Particularly worrying is the lack of consultation and transparency in arriving at this strategy, and the vague terms in which the BFI defines its future role in film education. The institute's management portrays the downscaling of core activities in favour of expensive projects such as the South Bank Centre as an opportunity, but the arguments put forward to justify the proposed measures do not convince. Public discussion is needed as to what purpose and constituency a "realigned" BFI is meant to serve.

Tim Bergfelder
Head of film studies
Southampton University

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