It’s hard to fathom how a director with such an impressive and groundbreaking body of work as that of Mike Figgis can be so easily dismissed by the British Film Institute, and yet that is exactly what has and continues to happen. Speaking recently to The Guardian, Figgis is quite vocal about his frustrations at not being able to secure any funding from the government organisation due to their lack of understanding or willingness to invest in something that doesn’t have decent box office potential.
The Leaving Las Vegas director opened up about the long, troubled relationship he has had with the body, which was the main instigator for his move to Hollywood where he was able to make the films he wanted without having to justify himself or his artistic choices. Figgis is not a ‘movie maker’, his films are progressive works of art that are mostly character based – not the sort of thing the film council seem to be interested in, preferring to promote a more antiquated notion of the UK that only serves to preserve peoples notions of its famous stiff upper lip persona. It’s a choice between the floppy haired, bumbling fool most prevalent in those very popular Richard Curtis offerings or a gritty council estate drama usually set up North, neither of which fit the Figgis mould, and present a falsified image of contemporary Britain.
According to Figgis, the BFI’s focus on more mainstream projects is putting British filmmaking in jeopardy, a fear which is further confounded by his revelation that he couldn’t secure a screening for his current films at either the London Film Festival or the Edinburgh Film Festival, a fact that is somewhat jaw dropping.
Talking candidly about the prevalence of ‘clubs’ within the British creative industries, it is clear Figgis has had enough of the ‘Kafkaesque red tape’, as he calls it, one has to go through in order to get a film made. This nonsense extends beyond Figgis himself to other renowned British directors such as John Boorman and Nicholas Roeg, who have each made significant contributions to British Film and should surely be supported in their current ventures.
Ironically the BFI frequently invite Figgis to give talks and share his ideas but they stop short of helping him bring any of his films to fruition, which is why the director is taking his next project back to the States and going more local with his conversation by giving an open talk at the East End Film Festival where you can pick up the debate yourself and also enjoy his latest psycho-sexual thriller Suspension of Disbelief, that, if the trailer is anything to by, is set to become another Figgis classic.
The full article is available to read on The Guardian website.