Telefilm to back Quebec films

Latest round of financing includes 'Bashir Lazhar'

TORONTO – Canadian government coin for local indie production continues to flow.

Telefilm Canada, Ottawa's film financier, on Friday said it will hand out more than $25 million in funding to French-language movies over the current year through the Canada Feature Film Fund.

And the Ontario Media Development Corp., which hands out film tax credits to Canadian and Hollywood producers shooting locally, on Friday named Pinewood Toronto Studios chairman Paul Bronfman and four other industry players to its board of directors.

The latest round of financing from Telefilm Canada has seen $7 million going into six Quebec films, including "Bashir Lazhar," the latest feature from Writer-director Philippe Falardeau ("Congorama").

Based on the stage play by Evelyne de la Cheneliere, "Bashir Lazhar" portrays an Algerian refugee to Quebec who replaces a school-teacher who hanged herself, only to be faced at school by a group of traumatized pupils and Canadian immigration hurdles.

Luc Dery and Kim McCraw will produce, and Les Films Christal will release the picture.

Telefilm is also helping bankroll the satirical comedy "Bosse'" from director Claude Desrosiers and a script by Luc Dery, Yves Lapierre and Andre Ducharme about financial scandals seen through the eyes of a corrupt businessman. Lyse Lafontaine is producing and Alliance Vivafilm

The Telefilm subsidies for French-language films is crucial to Quebec producers as their work consistently draws the bulk of boxoffice at the local multiplex for homegrown Canadian films, and helps local directors secure international co-production financing for their projects.

Also receiving Telefilm backing is Gabriel Pelletier's crime drama "La peur de l'eau," which sees a rural Quebec police sergeant pursuing the killer of a young girl. The producers are Nicole Robert and Ann Bernier of GO Films, with Remstar Distribution releasing.

Telefilm will also help fund Micheline Lanctot's "Pour l'amour de Dieu, Drama, about a 12 year-old girl in 1959 Montreal worshipping a recently ordained Dominican priest, who in turn encounters sparks of forbidden attraction from a nun. Andre Gagnon and Monique Huberdeau will share the producer credits, with Metropole Films distributing.

There's also soft money for the Ken Scott comedy "Starbuck," written by Scott and Martin Petit, and Thierry Binisti's Canadian-French co-production "Une bouteille dans la mer de Gaza."

Also Friday, the OMDC named five new board members, including Bronfman, who is also chairman and CEO of the Comweb Group, and music manager Susan de Cartier of Starfish Entertainment.

Also joining the OMDC brain trust is Ildiko Marshall, former publisher of the Today's Parent Group at Rogers Publishing, Nicole St. Pierre, head of business and legal affairs at Mercury Filmworks, and Blake Tohana, executive vp and CFO at Magna Entertainment.
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