BFI to invest $810 million in UK film over 5 yrs

LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - The British Film Institute (BFI) will invest nearly 500 million pounds ($810 million) over the next five years in a bid to boost the industry and build audiences, it announced on Wednesday.

Under the title "Film Forever: Supporting UK Film 2012-2017", the initiative will involve spending 44.2 million pounds a year on education and audiences, 32.3 million annually on film and film making and 9.9 million a year on film heritage.

"Film Forever is founded on a renewed commitment to the future - the future generation of audiences, the future generation of film makers and the opportunities presented by digital technologies," said BFI CEO Amanda Nevill.

"We are investing where we think we can most make a difference," she added in a statement.

To help build audiences, the BFI is concentrating on eight to 10 regional hubs outside London, equipping 1,000 community venues across Britain and working with Samsung to develop a Smart TV app providing BFI content.

Every five to 19-year-old will be offered a film education, and the BFI also aims to develop a new youth film Academy with the help of Pinewood Studios and BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts).

Direct support for British film will come in the form of more money for production and development, rising to 24 million pounds by 2017 from 18 million in 2012, as well as a new talent network and BFI Film Skills Fund.

In terms of heritage, the BFI wants to digitise 10,000 films over the next five years and will hold a public vote to help determine which those films should be.

The British film industry contributes 1.6 billion pounds a year to national GDP, according to a recent report from Oxford Economics.

The same study estimated that, including indirect employment, tourism, trade and merchandise, the figure rises to more than 4.6 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

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