Canada, India talk co-production agreement

Fears that Canadian taxes could be compromised continue

TORONTO -- Canada has started talks with India on a possible official film and TV co-production agreement.

The announcement by James Moore, Canada's heritage minister, comes as the Toronto International Film Festival gets underway, and follows years of pussy-footing by Ottawa towards seeing local producers partner with their Indian counterparts in Bollywood.

"Moving forward with co-production treaty negotiations with India should strengthen the relationship our two countries already have, while supporting the creation of a greater number of original audiovisual productions that can be distributed on a larger scale," Moore said.

Canadian directors have long shot films in India, and Indian directors have used locales in Canada, like Vancouver and Toronto, that have large Indo-Canadian communities.

But Canada's reticence to allow its indie producers to officially tie-up with Bollywood, despite having signed co-production agreements with 49 nations, stems from long-standing fears that Canadian taxpayer coin for homegrown films could be compromised if it becomes entangled with film and TV projects linked to Mumbai's criminal underworld.

So Ottawa is treading carefully, having signed last June an initial memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation with India to showcase Canadian films in India, and Indian films here.

Should Canada and India reach an official co-production treaty, then Indian film and TV producers will be able to partner with Canadian producers and tap federal and provincial tax credits, and subsidies like the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada's Canada Feature Film Fund.