Toronto 2011: Canadian and European Producers Chase Buyers at Film Market

As Hollywood stars strut the red carpet in Toronto, local and foreign producers will be active behind velvet ropes beating the ferns for film buyers.

TORONTO -- Like paparazzi with their "Hey guys! Over here! Over here!” calls this week at the Toronto International Film Festival, Canadian and international producers will be battling for attention in Toronto amid the Hollywood glare.

Cedric Jeanson of New York-based Filmbox, which is selling Matthew Goode's Burning Man internationally after its world premiere at TIFF, has just laid on another private screening Friday at Bell Lightbox.

“Lots of distributors have tracked the film. People have seen the footage, read the screenplay, they want to ensure the film works emotionally as a whole,”Jeanson explained.

Burning Man, directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, features Goode playing an English chef in Australia trying to put his life and his relationship with his son back together after a family illness, while surrounded by beautiful women.

CAA is repping the emotionally-driven drama for domestic rights.

“We’ll see. The festival has been very supportive of the film. We’re pretty hopeful that good distributors will respond strongly to it,” Jeanson said.

Also hoping for an emotional reception from Toronto audiences and film buyers is Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, who is bringing her latest film, Where Do We Go Now?, to the festival after a Cannes bow.

“You never know how it happens. Sometimes it’s completely unexpected. Until now, wherever we have screened the film, we’ve had positive reactions,” Labaki said of the Lebanese village drama set against the backdrop of civil strife.

“People are surprised by the emotions they feel, as they go from laughter to tears. A normal audience who let themselves go to these kinds of emotions will respond positively,” she added.

Labaki’s debut film, Caramel, screened as a gala at TIFF in 2007.

Pathe’ International will be shopping the international rights to Where Do We Go Now? in Toronto.

Indie maven Casian Elwes will be working U.S. distributors in Toronto to secure a theatrical release stateside for Edwin Boyd, Nathan Morlando’s theatrical drama about a Canadian bank robber-turned-Toronto folk hero that stars Scott Speedman.

The indie pic, which stars Speedman as a gentleman bandit who rose to 1950s media fame in post-war Toronto for dramatic bank hold-ups and two prison breaks, was initially shopped to foreign buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin.

Then a movie trailer was shown to distributors in Cannes.

“Buyers will see the film for the first time at TIFF, and sales will begin in earnest,” Edwin Boyd producer Allison Black of Euclid 431 Pictures said Thursday, ahead of a Saturday night bow in Toronto at Bell Lightbox.

Kirk D’Amico of Myriad Pictures is selling Edwin Boyd internationally.

Also on the Canadian front, there’s U.S. buyers’ heat around the National Film Board of Canada’s highly-anticipated TIFF documentary, Pink Ribbons Inc., which exposes the North American-centered “pink ribbon” industry around breast cancer fed by corporations like Avon and pharmaceutical giants that have women and men walking, biking and running for a cancer cure as they are sold products with pink ribbons on them.

Pink Ribbon Inc., directed by Lea Pool, is a slow-build from an opening scene in San Francisco as thousands of mostly women prepare to run to raise money for a breast cancer cure, to cynical corporations awash in fund-raising proceeds talking about all they do to cure cancer.

“I felt the need to go from something not so bad to something I had to denounce,” Pool said of the film’s story arc.

Ravinda Din, who produced Pink Ribbon Inc., said the NFB documentary aims to start a new conversation about breast cancer after a pink ribbon campaigns that urge cancer sufferers to be bright and optimistic about a cure have produced no significant changes in mortality rates over the last 60 years.

“The film is not just about making the audience angry. Anger is the beginning of something, about changing things,” Din said.

The Toronto International Film Festival continues through Sept. 18.