EXCLUSIVE: As uncertainty abounds regarding the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU, the British Film Institute has sent a senior delegation to the Berlin Film Festival to discuss Brexit with international industry. The mission is aimed at reassuring the UK’s international partners as well as its own industry.

With less than 50 days before the UK is due to exit the EU, a move vocally criticized by leading figures in the UK business, there is anxiety around fallout from a no-deal exit, which could have a knock on effect on cast and crew free movement, co-production agreements, licensing deals, and further diminish the enfeebled pound. Vital indie film funding from European culture body Creative Europe would end.

Yesterday, the BFI — the UK’s lead organization for film — and the British Council jointly held a private lunch for leading international firms such as Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, The Match Factory, Pandora, Cofiloisirs, Charades and Silver Reel. UK companies in attendance included BBC Films, Film4, Curzon and HanWay.

Today, the BFI and British Council are hosting a co-production oriented private lunch with the likes of Amazon, Telefilm Canada, the Danish Film Institute, Wild Bunch/Senator from Germany and the Hungarian National Film Fund. UK producers in attendance are due to include Origin, Wellington Films, Hurricane Films, New Sparta Productions, Shudder Films and Escape Plan. These events replace the more casual BFI brunches the funding body has held in Berlin in the past.

The BFI, like many organizations in the UK, is preparing for a no-deal scenario. There was at least some good news this week with the UK government signing the updated Council of Europe Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. The agreement was recently revised to make it easier for European producers to co-produce with countries such as Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America.

Harriet Finney, Director of External Affairs for the BFI told us, “We have been focusing intensively on practical work over the past few months and it was great to arrive in Berlin 50 days before Brexit and be able to announce that this week the UK government signed up to the Council of Europe  Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. This is an important step and highlights the UK’s desire to continue working closely with our European partners, and is a timely reminder that whilst we mighty be leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe.”

Ben Roberts, Deputy CEO, BFI, added, “We place enormous value on the UK’s creative and business relationships with our European and international friends and partners. This year in partnership with the British Council we decided to use two working lunches in Berlin as a forum for discussion, knowledge-sharing and the promotion of further collaboration between UK and European producers, distributors, financiers and producers.

“We held the first event  yesterday, a UK and European partners lunch where we discussed some of the possible changes for future UK and European film production and business relationships as a result of the Brexit negotiations. It was a valuable and constructive discussion and a testament to the quality of our relationships with our European neighbours.

“The second lunch is for UK producers looking to meet and work with European and international co-producers and will be attended by producers from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Flanders, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, the U.S. and of course the UK.”

Like everyone else, the BFI remains in the dark about what exactly is coming regarding Brexit but this weekend’s events are at least about reminding European partners that the UK film industry remains an ally, a friend and a business partner.