Source : CBC News
CBC News Online with files from Meredith Dellandrea, The Arts Report
MONTREAL - Telefilm Canada, the government agency that finances the Canadian film and television industry, responded Wednesday to recent criticism from Quebec about how the agency distributes funding.
In a letter sent to the editor of Montreal's La Presse last week, producers from 2003's six highest-grossing Quebec films -- including the Oscar-nominated The Barbarian Invasions and Sundance darling La Séduction -- suggested Telefilm should redirect money earmarked for English-language films to Quebec.
As Telefilm's funding policy is supposed to reward success, they argue, more money should go to Quebec, which produced six hit films that grossed more than $1 million in 2003, one of its best filmmaking years ever.
But Telefilm's director general said that the agency couldn't take too much money from the English side because its industry needs to be nurtured. "The English market has a way to go," Richard Stursberg said.
In 2000, Telefilm received money from the federal government to develop the Canadian film industry. The goal was for French-language films to capture 12 per cent of the domestic box office and English-language films to capture four per cent.
Having just started the 2004-2005 season, Quebec films have already achieved 19 per cent of the Canadian box office, while English-Canadian films still make up less than one per cent.
The French-language industry has become much more mature and successful than its English-language counterpart, Stursberg said. "[If] the two-year-old has to go in the ring with the 25-year-old who's been in top shape for some time, well, it won't be much of a contest."
Telefilm has already allocated 36 per cent, or $24 million, of its total annual resources to French-language film production, Stursberg added.
This is slightly more than the agency's traditional funding split of one-third designated to French-language films, with the remaining two-thirds going to English-language films.
Quebec's filmmakers will have to live with their current share of money, Stursberg said, since the agency's funding formula isn't up for review until the 2005-2006 season.
In December, independent Quebec filmmakers published an open letter in Le Devoir stating their concern over Telefilm's criteria, which assure the year's most profitable filmmakers of future funding. Under these regulations, the majority of the French-language funding would go to the few hit Quebec productions from 2003. Telefilm responded by redirecting $4 million into a fund specifically for independent French-language films.