Top Directors Oppose Film and TV "Super Agency" Merger in Canada

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President Donald Trump (left) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

David Cronenberg, Xavier Dolan, Sarah Polley and Denis Villeneuve are among filmmakers urging Telefilm Canada to stay independent.

Top filmmakers have told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop a possible merger of the government's main local film and TV financiers.

The April 19 letter to Trudeau and Heritage Minister Melanie Joly urges the politicians to reject an apparent proposal for Telefilm Canada, the main source of taxpayer subsidies for homegrown movie production, to be merged with the Canadian Media Fund to create a "super agency."

"We are deeply concerned that if feature film investments are subsumed within a larger agency with a competing and unsympathetic mandate, its independence and efficacy will quickly erode," the estimated 50 directors and producers — led by Sarah Polley, Xavier Dolan, David Cronenberg and Denis Villeneuve — wrote in their letter that has been obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

The Canada Media Fund subsidizes domestic TV series and digital content with mainly objective criteria and a focus on homegrown content for the world market. TV shows to receive CMF funding include Orphan Black, Saving Hope, Rookie Blue and other series that air in the U.S. and elsewhere internationally. 

Telefilm Canada, by contrast, has more subjective criteria behind its funding decisions for homegrown movies, which includes how they fare at foreign film festivals and award shows. Telefilm oversees around $100 million in annual support for local film production.

The Canadian filmmakers, who also include many working both sides of the border like Jean-Marc Vallee and Ken Scott, argued local films need continued Telefilm Canada backing as they "fend for themselves in ... a fiercely competitive environment dominated by the multinational conglomerates which own the six Hollywood studios."

The apparent proposal to merge Canada's biggest sources of taxpayer subsidies comes as Joly conducts a major review of the country's cultural policies to bring homegrown content and creators into the digital age.