Donald Trump could have a 'frightening' effect on independent film, says Elliot Grove

The founder of the British Independent Film Awards (Bifa) has said the politics of Donald Trump are "frighteningly" damaging to freedom of movement and ideas that are crucial to the arts.

Elliot Grove, who also founded the Raindance Film Festival, likened the Republican presidential candidate to Adolf Hitler as he mourned a "hard-right trend" in American politics.

He was speaking as this year's Bifa nominations, which feature Michael Fassbender, Gemma Arterton and Ken Loach among others, were announced during an event in central London.

Douglas Booth, Ophelia Lovibond and Elliot Grove announce the BIFA 2016 nominations
Douglas Booth, Ophelia Lovibond and Elliot Grove announce the Bifa 2016 nominations (Vianney Le Caer/AP)

The Canadian-born film producer said: "These trends, especially in America, point to the hard right, point to the rise of isolationism and protectionism, and in the cultural industries we are all of us about freedom of movement and ideas and peoples crossing nations, time zones and cultures.

"If we lose that, the world would be a much sadder place. It's frightening what's happening.

"There is a parallel between what Donald Trump is doing in America and the messages he is putting out, which are directly reminiscent of those in 1933 by a certain leader in our neighbour here in Germany."

The awards were announced by actors Douglas Booth and Ophelia Lovibond, who added their fears over the effect of current politics on the world of film-making.

Douglas also takes a role in political campaigns.
Douglas also takes a role in political campaigns (Yui Mok/PA)

Douglas, who played Boy George in BBC Two film Worried About The Boy (2010) and starred in last year's The Riot Club, said: "The political situation in the US is particularly depressing. In 2008 we had an election so full of hope and I was feeling so positive about the future.

"It's not a particularly happy time for politics on either side of the ocean. It's the same as with Brexit, and I'm just hoping the Americans don't make the same mistake we did."

He added that the growing production of independent films is "more important than ever".

The 24-year-old said: "It's important for British independent film to cover all those issues, that's what's so strong about it.

"They have a space and there is a necessity for them more than ever as those mainstream films become more and more like one another, once they have found a formula that works and makes money."

Ophelia, who plays Kitty Winter in US show Elementary, said independent British film has a "revered" global reputation for its ability to confront hard-hitting issues.

She said: "There is the cliche of kitchen sink drama that gets bandied about, but that belittles something really important, that British film doesn't shy away from bringing up issues that do need to be discussed."

But she added that funding cuts to arts education pose a risk to the quality of UK film.

The 30-year-old said: "If you are in a situation where you can't afford to pay for extracurricular activities, or can't even manage to get there, it's squeezing that opportunity and that's really irresponsible.

Ophelia Lovibond has been especially vocal on equal opportunities for rising actors
Ophelia has been especially vocal on equal opportunities for rising actors (Jonathan Short/AP)

"The arts make up a massive portion of our employment and if you take away people that are skilled in that, then where is that economy going to come from?

"The arts are not a luxury, they are a necessary way of expressing and engaging in the world."

Ken Loach's film I, Daniel Blake - the story of an ill carpenter struggling through the social welfare system - featured in a number of the 16 award categories.

Elliot described the film, and others throughout Ken's 50-year career, as an example of British film-makers who tackle both the "moral challenge" and "entertainment challenge".

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