UK film workers picket Saltburn premiere at BFI London Film Festival

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A small number of industry workers held a demonstration during the Saltburn premiere to highlight the lack of investment in British film.

Last night marked the opening of the BFI London Film Festival and Emerald Fennel’s highly-anticipated Saltburn kicked things off with its European premiere. However, on an overpass above the red carpet, around 30 UK crew members formed a demonstration to raise awareness of the problems being faced by UK crews as the Hollywood strikes continue to financially impact UK workers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “around 30 people held aloft banners declaring that ‘UK cast and crew are the backbone of this industry’ on an overpass overlooking the red carpet, while others distributed leaflets as guests arrived.”

The protest was organised by Crew Call For Change, the same folks behind the Instagram account @britcrewstories.

In a typically British way, the demonstrators placed themselves in a position were they were both visible yet unobtrusive but had this to say to THR about the way the US strike has badly affected UK production: “This episode has starkly demonstrated that almost at every level, we have rapidly become entirely reliant on [studios and streamers]. This is simply unsustainable.”

They do have a point, not least given the number of UK studios that have been block booked, meaning independent films are increasingly having to look overseas.

With up to 75 percent of UK film crew currently out of work and 35 percent struggling financially, the pain is real for these hard-working, talented people and the overreliance of the UK sector on international investment is clear for all to see.

Whether a swift resolution to the ongoing strikes in Hollywood will end such dissent remains to be seen but another demonstration has been planned for today in London, although that one will be staged by BECTU, the trade union for UK crew workers.

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