Films featuring characters with ‘negative disfigurement’ won’t gain BFI support

The British Film Institute will no longer fund movies that feature a negative portrayal of disfigurement.

“Film is a catalyst for change and that is why we are committing to not having negative representations depicted through scars or facial difference in the films we fund,” – BFI deputy CEO Ben Roberts, quoted by YahooNews

Yahoo News report the BFI ‘has said that it no longer intends to fund movies which feature villains with facial scarring, in the hope of battling the stigma around disfigurement.’

The changes to how the organisation will fund movie scripts follows a campaign entitled ‘I Am Not Your Villain’ which charity Changing Faces launched in the hope of bringing positive portrayals of people with visible differences to the face, hands or body

“This campaign speaks directly to the criteria in the BFI diversity standards, which call for meaningful representations on screen. We fully support Changing Faces’s #IAmNotYourVillain campaign, and urge the rest of the film industry to do the same.”  – BFI deputy CEO Ben Roberts, quoted by YahooNews

Backing its dedication to the Changing Faces cause the BFI will also fund a production entitled Dirty God which is described as a drama following a woman, played by Vicky Knight, who has to come to terms with her new life following being the victim of an acid attack. The story will show how the character rebuilds her world after the disfigurement.

Changing Faces is the UK’s leading charity for the 1.3 million people in the UK with a visible difference: a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different. The body offers advice, support and psychosocial services to children, young people and adults. They believe they can challenge discrimination and campaign for Face Equality through their awareness and projects. Changing Faces believe in ‘a world that truly values and respects people who look different.’

“The film industry has such power to influence the public with its representation of diversity, and yet films use scars and looking different as a shorthand for villainy far too often. It’s particularly worrying to see that children don’t tend to make this association until they are exposed to films that influence their attitudes towards disfigurement in a profoundly negative way.” – Changing Faces’ chief executive Becky Hewitt.

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