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The British patient

Despite an abundance of film-making talent and growing cinema audiences the British film industry continues to droop. Subsidy is not the answer. New Labour should look to Ireland

The biggest challenge facing Chris Smith, the new heritage minister, is to solve the conundrum of why the British are so good at making films, so awful at making money out of them.

The hundreds of millions of dollars earned by the Oscar-winning The English Patient will go straight to its US investors, even though it was written and directed by a Briton and featured a mainly British cast. The same thing happened 16 years ago with Chariots of Fire.

Over the past century, the US film industry has become that country’s second biggest exporter. In Britain, despite our traditions…

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