Magazine article Variety

Northern Exposure

Magazine article Variety

Northern Exposure

Article excerpt

Global visions of Canuck helmers get showcase in sun

Canadian films and filmmakers are drawing more and more global recognition, and the 25th Palm Springs Inti. Film Festival has programmed a hefty sidebar of films from the Great White North that make a compelling case for a Canadian renaissance.

Palm Springs artistic director Helen du Toit notes that some 7% of the festival audience is Canadian, with about 70% of festival attendees traveling from outside Palm Springs.

Quebec is the engine that is driving the country's international film aspirations, as such Québécois helmers as Denis Villeneuve ("Prisoners"), Jean-Marc Vallee ("Dallas Buyers Club") and Xavier Dolan ("Tom at the Farm") have gained international followings, and some, notably Villeneuve and Vallee, have crossed over into Hollywood.

"There's a strong sense of identity in Quebec," du Toit says. "An artist is in a place of honor in French Canada - in Quebec, artists are celebrated."

French-Canadians also support their local filmmakers at the box office, where auteurs and French-lingo dramas and comedies regularly hit the top 10; therefore, Quebec government funding body Sodec has more incentive to invest in French-Canadian films.

English-speaking Canada behaves more like the U.S. mainstream, with Hollywood movies swallowing indies.

Du Toit also notes that there are some English-speaking Canadian filmmakers who try to compete with the U.S. fare. "Resources are limited, it's a limited market and it's hard to compete in that commercial space," she adds.

There have been some successes, such as "Goon," which took in $6 million worldwide in 2012, and "Starbuck," which made $3.8 million worldwide and was recently remade by DreamWorks as "Delivery Man," starring Vince Vaughn.

"English-language pics have to get out of the shadow of the U.S.," du Toit says.

Francophone filmmakers can tap into Sodec, which offers development money as well as other grants for filmmakers. Some 80% of its funding goes to French-language projects

Telefilm Canada is another giant in the country's filmmaking development, with funding for almost every stage of film production, marketing and promotion.

Telefilm Canada and Sodec will be in the desert as the key supporters of the Palm Springs sidebar.

"We follow their triumphs around the globe - including at the Palm Springs Inti. Film Festival - Canadian talent makes us proud," says Carolle Brabant, Telefilm Canada's executive director.

Telefilm Canada is tapping private investors for its Talent Fund, and to that end hosting a private party during the festival for philanthropic Canadians looking to support the arts

"The Thlent Fund is an innovative initiative to offer our creators new financial tools to attract larger audiences," Brabant says. …

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