The British Film Institute has upped Ben Roberts to CEO, taking over from Amanda Nevill. He will start mid-February, 2020.
The appointment, widely tipped, was made by BFI Chair and Warner Bros UK chief Josh Berger on behalf of the BFI’s Board of Governors after a recruitment process that began last summer.
As CEO of the UK’s lead film organization, Roberts will be responsible for the BFI’s future strategic and cultural direction and provide leadership for the UK’s screen industries. He will lead the BFI’s next five year strategic plan (2022- 2027) and will have to help navigate the potentially complicated local fallout from Brexit.
Since joining the BFI as Director of the BFI Film Fund in 2012, then promoted to Deputy CEO in October 2018, he has been one of the key architects of the BFI Diversity Standards. He devised a new template for inclusive training with Lucasfilm and Disney for the BFI Film Academy, and has been instrumental in setting inclusion targets across all BFI National Lottery funding.
Under his stewardship, the BFI NETWORK has become a year-round, UK-wide talent development program and in the last year he also launched the new Government-backed £57M Young Audiences Content Fund. Roberts was formerly CEO of Protagonist Pictures.
Berger said, “I’m absolutely thrilled to appoint Ben Roberts, on behalf of the BFI Board, as the BFI’s new Chief Executive. Ben is a rare talent, with broad experience and understanding of the complexities of our screen industries; from the cultural landscape and developing new voices to growing UK independent film; from the challenges facing the UK film industry to what drives the UK’s success as a global destination for filmmakers. Ben is a passionate advocate for inclusion and has already done much to steer our industry towards better representation and accessibility. Going forward, the BFI has an important role in shaping the exciting cultural and commercial opportunities presented by the broader screen industries and Ben is the person to lead this.
“I want to thank Amanda Nevill for her brilliant 17 years transforming the BFI into the great organisation it has become and I’m delighted to find someone who can build on Amanda’s incredible legacy and take us to even greater heights in the future.”
Roberts commented, “I’m eternally grateful to Amanda for bringing me into the BFI, and to Josh and the board for supporting my vision for its future. Film is egalitarian, and I want everyone to see the BFI as their home, to see themselves in our programmes, and feel welcome in our industry. We need all the diversity of voice, thought and talent to maximise the potential of the UK’s growing screen industries. My 22 year old self used the BFI library to help me find my first job in film, and so my 44 year old self is immensely proud to lead our brilliant teams through this next chapter.”
Nevill has been at the BFI since 2003. She was the first woman at the helm of the organization. The UK’s position as a major hub for inward investment and Hollywood productions has rocketed over the last decade.