Dismore demands Barnet waives unfair fees for Jewish Film Festival

(Press release: immediate 12/10/15)

Andrew Dismore, London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden has written to the leader of Barnet Council, demanding the waiver of  the Council’s attempted  levy of  £800 of fees from the UK Jewish Film Festival. (copy email below)

Mr Dismore said:

‘After all the problems of the festival last year, and the bad publicity that ensued for the Tricycle Theatre, you would have thought that the festival would find a welcoming home here, in Barnet.

‘The UKJFF is exactly the sort of event that we need in the borough, to enrich our cultural lives and to cater  for a strong home-grown audience.

‘Yet the council is behaving in its usual miserly way, in trying to squeeze the pips to extract £800 in fees from the Phoenix to host the UKJFF, an independent cinema that is part of the community and does such good work in screening  previews, student work and, low-budget and  short films by emerging filmmakers.

‘I urge the Council to waive the fees, even at this late hour, to ensure the full programme can go ahead without unnecessary extra charges and obstacles.’


Email to Cllr Cornelius:

Dear Richard,

I am writing to you, as leader of Barnet Council,  about the issue of film licensing for  the UK Jewish Film Festival at the Phoenix cinema. As I am sure you know, the Phoenix has a long history of showing previews, premieres, student films, low-budget or short films by emerging filmmakers as well as hosting film festivals, such as this.

As you might expect, the UKJFF films do not have British  BBFC certification, though I understand that for the films to be shown this year, the UKJFF is content to exhibit films only to over 18s, so the classification system does not really add anything to these screenings.

After the difficulties that arose last year affecting the UKJFF , then hosted at the Tricycle Theatre and all the bad publicity for the Tricycle that followed, I was very surprised to learn  of the obstacles being put in the way of the festival this year, by Barnet Council.

I cannot understand why the council wishes to impose a levy of £80 per film, £800 in total, for effectively doing nothing, as there will be no need to classify the films for any under 18 screenings.

They have now been told they have to pay for this waiver as well, at the same cost of £800, even though my understanding is that the only reason for the charge is because of the restriction of admission to under 18s – so this doesn’t seem to make sense – and they have been given an impossibly short deadline to comply, too.

I would have thought that the UKJFF is exactly the sort of event that Barnet would wish to attract to the  borough, to support and enrich our cultural activities here. Unfair fees like these will only discourage such initiatives in the  future, and give the borough yet more bad publicity it can do without.

I would therefore urge you , at this late stage, to waive the fees in this instance, to help ensure the success of this festival, and to set a welcoming example for future events that we would wish to encourage, too.


Andrew Dismore

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden