Ontario loaning Toronto fest $46 mil

Funds will help festival finish Bell Lightbox construction

TORONTO -- The Ontario government is to provide the Toronto International Film Festival with a $46 million loan to help complete construction on the high-profile festival's new year-round home, Bell Lightbox.

A festival spokeswoman said the low-interest loan, to be amortized over 15 years, was made available to TIFF through the Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority.

The latest provincial funding comes on top of $35 million already pledged to Bell Lightbox by the Ontario government towards completing the $196 million development.

Hollywood producer Ivan Reitman, his sisters Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels and Toronto property developer the Daniels Corp. are behind the construction of Bell Lightbox, which is set to include five cinema screens, studios, galleries and workshops after it opens its doors provisionally in fall 2010.

Ontario, eager to lure entertainment jobs to Toronto, earlier hiked its 25% tax credit for Hollywood producers to offset all local production costs and poured nearly $250 million into studio spaces for Starz Animation and French video game company Ubisoft.

As the Toronto festival gets set to move into Bell Lightbox, TIFF has also launched a reorganization of its 120-strong work force.

No possible layoffs have so far been announced as part of the management review, which could see an unspecified number of employees redeployed in new jobs at Bell Lightbox, the festival said.