Canadian filmmakers look overseas for financing

Tue May 20, 2008 8:18am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - The term "Canadian film" has never been more widely applied.

Last year's "Eastern Promises," David Cronenberg's Oscar-nominated portrait of the Russian mafia in London, was shot and mostly financed in Britain. Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles' "Blindness," which opened the Cannes Film Festival last week, was structured as a Canada-Brazil-Japan co-venture. And Canadian director Vincenzo Natali's "Splice," staring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, was largely financed by French producer Gaumont.

But high-profile projects aren't the only dual-passport Canuck films to cast international actors or choose foreign locations and non-Canadian story lines.

Indeed, as government financing for Canadian films gets tight at home, local producers are increasingly spanning the globe in search of much-needed foreign financing dollars to keep their projects afloat.

"Once you get to a certain level of budget -- $5 million-$7 million -- unless you're a David Cronenberg or a Denys Arcand, with a strong background or star power, it will be difficult to find entirely in Canada the financing you require," says Danny Chalifour, director of international development and operations at Telefilm Canada, the federal government's film financier.

He adds that homegrown directors intent on big-budget films with marquee international stars will need to pre-sell rights to a U.S. producer or bring aboard an international partner.

Canadian producers are used to making films with foreign partners since Canada has official co-production treaties with over 50 countries. But as they go global for added dollars, major homegrown producers feel hamstrung by film financiers back home, especially the federal government.

Martin Paul-Hus, a film producer with Amerique Film, has just finished work on Amos Kollek's "Restless," a Hebrew-language drama shot in Montreal and structured as an Israel-Germany-France-Canada-Belgium co-production. As he attempts to finance Amos Gitai's next film -- a project based on a Canadian script -- he wants Canadian officials to loosen co-production qualification rules to allow more American equity in homegrown films, which will offset reduced financing from Europe where films are increasingly made among European Union member nations.   Continued...

<p>Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles (3rd L) poses with cast members Danny Glover (L-R), an unidentified woman, Yusuke Iseya, Alice Braga, Julianne Moore, Don McKellar, Gael Garcia Bernal and Yoshino Kimura for the screening of his film entry "Blindness" on the opening night of the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 14, 2008 REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>