The election is underway to find David Thompson's successor as BFI Member Governor.
To quote the blurb, Governors are no less than “the guardians and shapers of Britain's moving image heritage and culture, as well as being responsible for awarding Lottery film funds and for the strategic direction of the Government's lead agency for film.”
Guardian, shaper and administrator: you need a special kind of person for this unpaid public office of poetry and prose.
It’s a testament to the BFI’s standing that it has attracted four excellent candidates on paper, including Watershed’s Head of Programme Mark Cosgrove, Professor Sylvia Harvey of the University of Leeds and BAFTA magnet Peter Kosminsky.
As impressive as these candidates are, my vote goes to Donna Anton. I’ve known Donna for several years now, first when she chaired the British Federation of Film Societies and latterly in her capacity as Director of the Cornwall Film Festival. Donna can guard and shape and administrate with the best of them, and she’s by far the most responsible person I know in West Cornwall.
But it’s not the fact of our acquaintance that secured my X in the box. When the election materials arrived in the post I was prepared to judge each candidate on the strength of their supporting statements.
It’s here that I feel Donna scores highest marks. She’s the only one to pitch her candidacy in terms of the needs and interests of the BFI membership. Hardly surprising given Donna’s film society background, with community action and volunteering at its core.
As importantly, I’m hoping audiences will feature at the heart of the next iteration of film policy (not producers, or distributors or any other sectoral interest group). The BFI is uniquely positioned to capitalise on this in a way the UK Film Council never was. If elected, Donna’s experience as festival director and film society volunteer in tune with non-metropolitan audiences will add further heft to a Board already well served by industry and academic voices. Somebody needs to speak up for members from a demand-side perspective, and that's why Donna gets my vote.
Voting, open to all BFI members and Sight & Sound subscribers, closes at noon on Tuesday 20 December. Full details here.