Quebec producers told to look abroad for funding

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TORONTO -- The Canadian government wants Quebec movie producers to secure more international film financing by doing co-productions with partners in France and other French-speaking markets.

Telefilm Canada, the federal government's film financier, on Thursday unveiled a pilot project to generate more French-language Canadian films that tap official co-production financing available internationally.

"Diversifying the financing of French-language feature films is a priority," said Michel Pradier, director of the Quebec office and French operations at Telefilm Canada.

Pradier explained that Quebec has failed to raise sufficient money in its own backyard, either publicly or privately, to fund a growing supply of scripts from local filmmakers.

So Telefilm Canada has turned to the international market, and in particular official co-production dollars, to sustain the volume required to reach and engage Canadian audiences at local multiplexes.

Quebec filmmakers already partner in great numbers with French producers. Last year, the volume of Canadian movie co-productions came to CAN$271.4 million ($261 million), and France accounted for 42.5% of that total.

Pradier said that Telefilm Canada's pilot project is new in that it favors co-productions in which the Canadian producer is the majority partner, or hold a majority share of all rights attached to the project.

In the past, he explained, local French-language co-productions with only minority Canadian status did not attract audiences here in sufficient numbers.

"We want to extend our resources, and to give an opportunity to Canadian producers to not only attract local audiences, but also attract other audiences around the world," Pradier said.

Successful Canada-France co-productions that Telefilm Canada would like to repeat include Denys Arcand's "Les Invasions Barbares," which earned the 2004 Oscar for best foreign-language drama, and Jean-Francois Pouliot's 2003 film "La Grande Seduction," a U.K.-Canada-France co-production.

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