Concern over cuts to Norfolk community cinema support

Fears have been raised that community cinema groups in the region could lose their support network as a result of the impact of government cutbacks.

The British Federation of Film Societies has given advice and information to local groups for the last 65 years to set up movie screenings in village halls and community centres.

But the organisation, which has helped bring mainstream and world cinema to people's doorsteps, is at risk of folding after losing its main funding. It comes after the government cut its grant to the British Film Institute, which in turn axed its financial support to the federation, which costs �50,000 a year to run and has just two paid staff.

Brian Guthrie, chairman of the Diss Film Society, said the BFFS had been an invaluable source of support in getting new groups established and helped source films that were not so easy to get hold of. He added that it would be much more difficult to form new community cinema groups without the assistance of the federation.

'They are a really important organisation and in the long run and if there are no new film societies, the existing ones will gradually wind down,' he said.

Greg Tebble, general manager of Creative Arts East, which runs the Village Screen touring cinema, added: 'Any funding body that packs up is going to be a blow, but there are other organisations that can step in and are voluntary.'

Claire Elliott, BFFS chairman, said government funding cuts were taking the UK back to the 20th Century.

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A spokesman for the British Film Institute added that a �2m transitional lottery fund had been established to provide a lifeline for organisations like the BFFS to find alternative funding streams.

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