Canada's Top Talent to Sparkle in Cannes with Birks Canadian Diamonds

5:31 AM PST 05/03/2012 by Etan Vlessing
Marilyn Monroe © photo by Otto L. Bettmann – Artwork: agence Bronx

Telefilm Canada plans a red carpet tribute to homegrown talent that shines on the world stage, as the film financier mines the international terrain for foreign co-production dollars.

TORONTO - Hollywood will have its stars and now Canada its diamonds in Cannes.

Telefilm Canada, the federal government’s film financier, has partnered with Canadian luxury jeweller Birks to cheer top international Canadian talent by awarding them the inaugural Birks Canadian Diamond prize, starting at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.

“Through the creation of the Birks Canadian Diamond, we wish to recognize that much like diamonds mined in Canada, pure Canadian talent shines beyond our own frontiers to delight others around the world,” Jean-Christophe Bédos, president and CEO of Birks, said Wednesday of the red carpet Canadian talent tribute planned in Cannes on May 23.

The launch of the Birks Canadian Diamond follows the Canadian film industry seeing many of its biggest box office triumphs come from international co-productions.

So Telefilm Canada is looking to Cannes and its talent tribute to continue to mine the international terrain for additional foreign co-production coin and partners.

Recent successful Canadian film co-productions include nominees in the Academy Awards’ best foreign language film competition like Denis Villeneuve’s Canada-France co-production Incendies in 2011 and the Canadian Polish-German feature In Darkness, by director Agnieska Holland, in 2012.

The Canadian contingent in Cannes this month includes David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, a Canada-France co-production to screen in the official competition, Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways, another Canada-France partnership screening in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, and David Lambert’s Beyond the Walls, a Critics’ Week selection produced as a Canada-Belgium-France co-production.

“This year is an extraordinary one for Canada at Cannes -- what better moment for the creation of a tribute and an award that recognize the passion and energy that fuels Canadian cinema,” Carolle Brabant, executive director of Telefilm Canada, said Wednesday after plans for the first recipients of the Birks Canadian Diamond to be honored in Cannes were unveiled.

Celebrating Canadian talent on the Croissette also comes as the prestigious French film market increasingly figures in international success for local film producers, both in English- and French-speaking Canada.

The Cannes Film Market helped launch 198 Canadian films with $292 million in total budgets over the last five years alone, according to Telefilm Canada tracking data.

The Canadian presence at Cannes this month, to include Perspective Canada market screenings and producer networking sessions, will see Telefilm Canada looking to create still more two-way and three-way co-productions involving Canadian producers.

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