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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 16 January, 2019

No more funding for British movies with facial-scarred villains - but Ireland won't follow suit

The I Am Not Your Villain campaign wants the film industry to stop using scars as a shorthand for villainy.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)

FILMS THAT FEATURE villains with facial scars will no longer receive funding from the British Film Institute, but this initiative won’t be followed in Ireland.

The decision by the British organisation was made in support of the I Am Not Your Villain campaign started by Changing Faces, one of the leading charities in the UK which supports people with visible differences or disfigurements. 

The I Am Not Your Villain campaign was launched last month to urge the film industry to “stop using scars, marks or burns as a shorthand for villainy”.

Screen Ireland, formerly the Irish Film Board, is the national funding and development agency for the Irish film industry but said it does not currently have a policy “to rule out villainous characters with scars within the films that we fund”. 

“We do however encourage strong character development. The complexity and validity of the character is important as well as their motivation,” Screen Ireland said in a statement to

We would encourage originality and fresh thinking throughout the development process and in particular, we encourage those in receipt of Screen Ireland funding to subvert any expectation in relation to stereotypes.

Screen Ireland added that a film it recently co-funded called Dirty God, which will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film festival next year, tells a story highlighting the important issue of facial disfigurement as a result of an acid attack. 

Source: ChangingFaces/YouTube

The BFI vowed to support the campaign by not having negative representations depicted through scars or facial difference in the films it funds because it sees film as a catalyst for change.

“It’s astonishing to think that films have used visible difference as a shorthand for villainy so often and for so long. The time has come for this to stop.

“The BFI believes that film should be truly representative of the UK, and this campaign speaks directly to the criteria in the BFI Diversity Standards which call for meaningful representations on-screen,” Ben Roberts, Film Fund Director at the BFI said. 

We fully support Changing Faces’ I Am Not Your Villain campaign and urge the rest of the film industry to do the same.

With reporting by Aoife Barry 

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