Living with Hollywood: British film policy and the definition of ‘nationality’

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Focusing upon how a ‘national’ film has been historically defined in Britain, this article traces the history of legal definitions of a ‘British’ film and identifies some of the issues around nationality that these have raised. The article begins with a discussion of the introduction of quotas for ‘British’ films in the 1920s and the adoption of the Eady levy as a means of providing production finance to ‘British’ films in the post-war period. It then goes on to examine the introduction, in response to EU regulations governing the film industry, of a ‘Cultural Test’ for ‘British film’ in 2007 and to consider the way in which eligibility for tax reliefs has depended upon a film qualifying as ‘British’. In assessing whether the Cultural Test may be regarded as constituting a ‘break’ in British film policy in terms of a shift from economic to cultural objectives, the article not only indicates the manner in which cultural and economic objectives have been brought into alignment but also identifies how the definition of the ‘national’ for the purposes of tax relief has been designed to encourage ‘transnational’ Hollywood production within the UK. In doing so, the article also indicates how ‘national’ discourses and practices have continued to inform and structure the economic and cultural dynamics of contemporary ‘British’ cinema as well as engaging with, rather than necessarily standing in opposition to, ‘transnational’ and globalising trends.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-723
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Issue number5
Early online date17 Oct 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Oct 2016


  • Britain
  • European Union
  • Film Policy
  • British film
  • National Cinema
  • Transnational cinema
  • Tax policy
  • Cultural Test
  • Hollywood

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