Roberta Maxwell, Alex Ozerov Board Maxime Desmons' 'What We Have'

Alex Ozerov P

The gay coming-of-age drama is the first title from Telefilm Canada's microbudget production program to go before the cameras.

TORONTO -- Brokeback Mountain’s Roberta Maxwell, Alex Ozerov and Kristen Thomson are top-lining What We Have, writer-director Maxime Desmons’ feature debut and the first film to begin shooting from Telefilm, Canada’s industry-shifting microbudget production program.

The gay coming-of-age drama also stars Desmons as a French stage actor uprooted to northern Canada who tutors a young student, played by Ozerov, who faces a relentless bully.

Produced by Sally Karam and executive produced by Damon D’Oliveira, What We Have is the first title from the federal government’s film financier as it backs microbudget movie production to support emerging Canadian talent.

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D’Oliveira said Desmons' feature, now shooting in Toronto and North Bay, Ontario, fits Telefilm Canada’s goal to back the production and release of a first feature with a potential for wide theatrical and digital distribution.

“We’re taking subject matter that is torn from the headlines and putting it in an artistic context to tell a story that will appeal to a lot of people,” he argued.

D’Oliveira adds the gay bullying subject matter is timely given the current attention around gay activist and sex columnist Dan Savage and global efforts to introduce gay marriage.

The low-budget project also comes as Telefilm looks to wean Canadian filmmakers off of a reliance on public subsidies and move to more commercial collaboration with international partners.

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Despite the tight budget, Desmons is said to be enjoying the creative freedom.

“Maxime has been able to be in charge of the creative and explore his vision and take chances and do what he wants to do,” producer Karam insisted.

Besides Telefilm Canada, What We Have has financial backing from the Harold Greenberg Fund, and support from Technicolor Creative Services, Tattersall Sound & Picture and the Canadian Film Center.