Film institute to focus on research

Sean Coughlan

The British Film Institute last week published its BFI 2000 proposals - a re-assessment that will result in job losses and a more focused educational role.

The BFI is responsible for encouraging the development and understanding of film and television. Colin McCabe, head of information and education, said it wanted to move away from running events and training sessions, such as the A-level media studies conferences, in favour of in-depth research into media and literacy.

There would also be a greater emphasis on publishing books and resources for media studies, he said, in an attempt to set higher standards in the teaching materials available for the rapid expansion of such courses. In the process, 12 education jobs would be lost and another six created, in a department of 40 people.

Although the need for savings had initially prompted the revision, Colin McCabe said that the organisation had also thought carefully about what it was doing now and in the future.

The BFI's principal education officer, Cary Bazalgette, said that the commitment to high-quality educational research would provide a more solid basis on which to debate concepts such as literacy. As a prominent advocate of media studies, she also welcomed the opportunity to develop better teaching materials.

The BFI also announced that the Museum of the Moving Image is to expand into the site of the neighbouring National Film Theatre, on London's South Bank (both institutions are part of the BFI). The enlarged MOMI would also be extended further to include the capital's first large-screen IMAX cinema, which is to be built on disused land in nearby Waterloo.

The National Film Theatre, according to the plans, is to move from its riverside site into London's West End, where it will form part of a new national cinema centre, to be used as a showcase for British films and an exhibition site for the BFI's own extensive archive. Sites and dates have yet to be confirmed.

Another project that the BFI hopes to launch, as part of MOMI's responsibilities, is the "Imagination Network", a group of linked multimedia centres around the country - although this is dependent on National Lottery funding.

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Sean Coughlan

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