Remarks delivered by Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG at the UK Pavilion, Cannes Film Festival, on 16 May.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG

GREAT is the UK government’s flagship international communications programme which  promotes the best of Britain around the world. 

GREAT is a serious business. It drives economic growth for the UK by improving and extending our global reputation and competing for international tourism, students, trade, investment and talent. For every £1 that GREAT spends, it returns £15 to the UK economy.  

As part of our ambition, GREAT is proud to promote the UK’s exceptional film industry and it is fantastic to be here tonight to celebrate the outstanding talent of UK film makers. 
I want to thank our hosts and partners, the British Film Institute, the GREAT Campaign, Film4, BBC Film and the British Council, who have made this wonderful event possible. 

It is a privilege to be at the iconic Cannes Film Festival and to help support the introduction of outstanding cinematic talents from the UK to the global market.  

There is so much talent and potential in this room tonight, all of whom we hope will follow in the footsteps of previous GREAT 8 success stories. Let me share four emerging British filmmakers who went on to achieve international success following their participation in GREAT 8. 

  • Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun which was previously launched as part of GREAT 8 has just won the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut last year.

  • Rose Glass’s Saint Maud, a breakout horror hit, saw Rose nominated for the same award in 2021 as well as for the Outstanding British Film award.

  • Blue Jean by Georgia Oakley took home the Venice Film Festival People’s Choice Award.

  • And Rungano Nyoni, a 2017 GREAT8 participant, who has returned to the Croisette this year with her second feature On Becoming a Guinea Fowl, having its world premiere in the festival’s Un Certain Regard selection.

This showcase of British talent is very much the type of activity the GREAT Campaign is proud to support in our efforts to promote the UK’s strengths and opportunities to international audiences.  

Last September, GREAT launched a major new campaign in France, ‘The Audacious Kingdom’, celebrating the UK as a catalyst for innovation, creativity and fresh perspectives.  

As part of this initiative, during their first state visit we welcomed Their Majesties the King and Queen and 1000 guests to a Franco-British GREAT festival in Bordeaux to celebrate the strength and diversity of the UK-France relationship through business and culture.  

This year we have more than 15 events planned across France inviting people across the country to experience the UK’s audacious spirit for themselves. 

And UK film is a prime example of UK audacity. 

UK directors were behind 28 of the 200 highest earning films worldwide in recent years. And, according to the latest research, the UK is home to the fourth largest filmed entertainment market in the world after the USA, China and Japan.

Part of this success is thanks to the UK Government’s unwavering commitment to seeing the industry excel. The Government continues to support this industry by providing over £1 billion in competitive tax reliefs to give the sector the security it needs to unleash innovation.

Indie films, vital to UK cinema, nurture emerging talent and captivate audiences. 

I am delighted to highlight that we are introducing a higher rate tax credit for UK independent film productions at 40% after tax for lower budget features up to £15m to bolster investment and support more indie creations like those in GREAT 8. Beyond this, the UK boasts competitive tax breaks for high-end TV and film, animation, video games, and children’s content.

Further extensions will introduce visual effects relief and incentivise film studio infrastructure investment.

This supportive environment has helped our creative industries almost double in value from £66 billion in 2010 to £125 billion today. There are more than 2.4 million jobs in our creative industries, 1 million created since 2010.   

Events such as the GREAT 8 showcase at Cannes provide the perfect platform to cement the UK’s position as a powerhouse of independent film and help shine a light on the future generations of British filmmakers.  

I am tremendously excited to see where the imagination, diversity and audacious vision of these GREAT8 talents takes us next. 

Before closing, I also wanted to thank our French partners and celebrate the special relationship between our two nations, particularly given the 120th Anniversary of the Entente Cordiale this year. We also wish France the very best for a successful Olympic & Paralympic Games this summer.

Published 23 May 2024