Winstone and Boyle Support #SaveNIFilm

Actor Ray Winstone and director Danny Boyle join effort to overturn potential funding cut

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, and actor Ray Winstone, have today spoken out against proposed 50% cuts to funding that will directly impact on the Nerve Centre's Foyle Film Festival and two Creative Learning Centres.

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has asked NI Screen to prepare for cuts to its budget next year from £1.9m to £1m. The proposed cuts will also affect other cinema organisations such as Queen's Film Theatre, Cinemagic, Belfast Film Festival and CultureTECH.

Danny Boyle, known for directing films such as Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, as well the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, has screened films at the Nerve Centre's Foyle Film Festival in the past, and was a special guest at the festival in 2013 during Derry~Londonderry's year as UK City of Culture.

'Trainspotting had its first ever public screening at the Foyle Film Festival in Derry~Londonderry 18 years ago,' recalled Boyle, 'and throughout those years film has played an important role in the transformation of the city. Once the subject of heart-rending tragedies, Derry is now the shining host for cinema from around the world and for the promotion of local talent in the film industry.'

Popular actor Ray Winstone, famous for his hard man roles in The Departed, Scum and Beowulf, has also backed the Nerve Centre’s campaign against the cuts, having appeared at the Foyle Film Festival in 2012 to screen the Ashes, about one man's struggle with Alzheimer's.

'I cannot over-emphasise the importance of festivals in general, and Foyle Film Festival in particular, in providing a platform for independent films dealing with subjects outside of mainstream cinema,' said Winstone.

'I had the huge honour of launching the Foyle Film Festival in 2012 with Ashes, the first time the film had been shown on the big screen. Without the Foyle Film Festival, Ashes would not have received that platform or the exposure thereafter.

'I also appreciated the opportunity to connect with the audience in a post-screening discussion, and was delighted to be able to pass on my own experiences working in the film industry. For someone who has come from a working class background, it was very rewarding to be given the opportunity to hopefully inspire others in the same position to strive to achieve their dreams and ambitions.'

The Foyle Film Festival is the only Oscar-affiliated film festival in Northern Ireland, meaning that films successful in the festival's various competition categories can go on to be considered for Oscar contention. Past Oscar winners to have qualified at Foyle include Terry George for The Shore (2012) and Martin McDonagh for Six Shooter (2006).

Last year’s winner of Best Irish Short Film at Foyle Film Festival, SLR, recently made it on to the shortlist for best live-action short at the 2015 Academy Awards. Director Stephen Fingleton, who was born in Derry and raised in Enniskillen, said: 'The proposed cuts would have a devastating impact on many important educational, training and cultural schemes that are essential to supporting the creative industries.'

The Nerve Centre’s work in the area of creative learning and film education impacted on over 30,000 last year, including teachers, youth leaders and young people, 80% of whom are from disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland.

'When I was growing up I had nowhere to train and was forced to move to England to study,' recalled Fingleton. 'Without the Nerve Centre, young people will have to leave the country to study or worse will never be inspired to pursue a career in the arts.

'The arts generate a huge amount of revenue through bringing in investment. Do we really want Northern Irish people simply making the catering and carrying the cameras for foreign crews, or do we want them leading productions and bringing investment that would never have come here in the first place?'

The Nerve Centre have started a campaign against the cuts and are asking the public and users of their services to send objections via the Nerve Centre website or direct to DCAL on budgetconsultation@dcalni.gov.uk.

Help protect Northern Ireland's main film organisations from devastating budget cuts by registering your opposition direct to the NI Executive now via the #SaveNIFilm app.

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