The BFI has appointed Mia Bays as the new director of its Film Fund.
Joining for an initial three-year term, Bays will lead the strategic and cultural direction of the BFI’s investment of National Lottery funds into supporting U.K. feature film production. At approximately £30 million a year, it is the largest public fund in the UK for film and filmmakers, as well as new and emerging talent through BFI Network.
Bays is currently director-at-large for Birds’ Eye View, a U.K. charity that centres the female perspective in film and campaigns for gender equality in the industry. She will remain in a consultancy role with Birds’ Eye View and intends to return there at the end of her three-year contract with the BFI Film Fund.
Bays will take up her new role in October, based between London and Nottingham.
“I mark 30 years in film this year. What a way to celebrate and commence a new chapter,” said Bays. “I’m both excited and terrified! I’m looking to continue as a changemaker and cultural agitator; this time bringing that energy and commitment within an institution with a long history, knowledge and passion for film, which I wholeheartedly share.
“I’m going to spend time listening (within and without the walls of the BFI), learning and reflecting on how the fund can be a dynamic and constructive part of a post-pandemic film movement. I’m passionate about making film more inclusive and relevant to people who have felt excluded and unrepresented. My hand will be out for those people, with whom I identify.”
Ben Roberts, chief executive of the BFI, added: “The Fund really could not be in better hands as we look to the future of the fund and build our next strategy. Mia has such a wealth of experience across production, curation and audience development, and I have immense admiration for her transformative work at Birds Eye View. She has been championing diversity and emerging talent throughout her career, so she will be a key driver of our commitment to creating the widest possible opportunities across the U.K. Welcome Mia!”
Bays has worked in the film industry for almost 30 years as a creative producer, distribution and sales strategist, cultural activist, curator and workshop leader. She has worked on the releases of over 150 feature films, is a multi BAFTA-nominated producer (“Scott Walker: 30 Century Man”), and produced the Oscar-winning “Six Shooter,” directed by Martin McDonagh.
Mays was creative producer from 2007-2014 on the Film London BBC Films micro-budget scheme Microwave, which made eight features including “Shifty” and “Ill Manors,” starring Riz Ahmed, “Freestyle” starring Arinzé Kene, and “Lilting,” directed by Hong Khaou.
Elsewhere at the Film Fund, Natascha Wharton and Lizzie Francke, formerly senior production and development executives, have been appointed to the new roles of head of editorial and editor-at-large, respectively. Farhana Bhula and Kristin Irving are promoted to senior production and development executives. Fiona Morham has also taken on expanded responsibilities in her head of production role.
The BFI Film Fund recently supported seven-time BAFTA nominee and multi BAFTA-winning “Rocks,” directed by Sarah Gavron; “Ammonite,” directed by Francis Lee; and “Saint Maud,” directed by BAFTA nominee Rose Glass. The fund saw eight wins at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) for “Rocks,” “Saint Maud,” “The Reason I Jump,” “Limbo” and “Perfect 10.”