Andrew Dismore

Andrew Dismore

The UK Jewish Film Festival has criticised Barnet Council’s decision to impose a surprise £800 fee on one of its key partner venues, writes Talia Samuelson.

The council has decided to impose an £80 admin charge for each of the 10 films being screened at the East Finchley’s Phoenix Cinema during this year’s festival, which opens on 7 November.

Festival CEO Michael Etherton said: “The film certification and waiver fees being charged by Barnet council adversely affect the financial feasibility of film festivals such as ours, bearing in mind that each film generally receives one screening only. The effect of such fees can be to reduce the range of festival films on offer to the local community or to dissuade festivals altogether from presenting films in the borough.

“Film festivals have a huge amount to contribute to the local community, enriching the range of cultural provision on offer, and that local councils should play their role in encouraging that diverse cultural provision.”

London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore was mystified by the decision, writing a letter to Council Leader Richard Cornelius to protest.

He accused Barnet of exhibiting their “usual miserly” behavior, saying they were “[imposing] a levy….for effectively doing nothing.”

The UKJFF is no stranger to obstacles, having last year been banned from the Tricycle cinema for receiving funding from the Israeli embassy. The venue reneged on its ban after outcry from the Jewish community.