Arcand feature gets green light

Amid complaints that their funds are being stretched too thin, Telefilm Canada and SODEC have put their support behind a number of new films, including Denys Arcand's follow-up to Les Invasions barbares, L'Âge des ténèbres.

Amid complaints that their funds are being stretched too thin, Telefilm Canada and SODEC have put their support behind a number of new films, including Denys Arcand’s follow-up to Les Invasions barbares, L’Âge des ténèbres.

Telefilm says it will support five French-language features and two in English through its Canada Feature Film Fund, while, in a separate move, SODEC recently greenlit five French-language features and three in English.

Both the federal and Quebec agencies say the sheer volume of requests for financial assistance from the Quebec film community has become overwhelming.

‘It’s been a tough day,’ Michel Pradier, director of French operations and the Quebec office of Telefilm, said on June 15, the day of the announcement. ‘We had many, many people asking us for money, and many of the projects were of an especially high quality. The numbers of French-language applications were amazing, given our population in Quebec. It’s sad, because there’s no way we can fund everyone.’

Pradier adds that another factor is the increasing costs of filmmaking.

‘Budgets now are bigger than they were five or 10 years ago. Our operating budget remains the same. This directly impacts the kind of films we can support and how much we can support them.’

The Telefilm projects fall into several categories, starting at two films with budgets of over $2 million.

* Arcand’s L’Âge des ténèbres (‘the dark age’), from a screenplay by the director, in which a civil servant escapes his dreary existence by entering into a world of fantasy. Cinémaginaire is producing and Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm will distribute.

* Bernard Émond’s Contre toute espérance, about a woman who takes revenge on a multinational corporation after she is laid off from her job. It is produced by ACPAV, and to be distributed by Seville Pictures

Among low-budget films, the French-language Continental, by director Stéphane Lafleur, is a black comedy about what happens to four people after a man they are all connected to disappears. Continental will be produced by micro_scope and distributed by Christal Films.

On the English side, Telefilm will fund Amérique Films’ Restless, about a man who gets to know his estranged son after 20 years apart, and the teen romance Prom Wars by Productions Colin Neale, Philms Pictures and Fortune Films, to be distributed by Seville.

Telefilm will also support two minority coproductions:

* Le Bar, mon frère le juif, Hassan Benjelloun’s Morocco/France/Canada copro period film about Moroccan Jews who try to save a bar when Arab authorities threaten to shut it down. Productions Jeux d’ombre is the Canadian producer, K-Films will distribute in Canada.

* L’Infiltre, Dominique Othenin-Girard’s Switzerland/France/Canada copro about a Swiss detective drawn into drug trafficking and money laundering. Canadian production house is Productions Thalie, Christal Films will distribute domestically.

SODEC is also backing Arcand’s L’Âge des ténèbres, along with:

* Adieu Max, the Alain Desrochers action film to be produced by Pierre Even of Cirrus Productions and distributed by Vivafilm.

* Guylaine Dionne’s Serveuses demandées, about illegal immigrant strippers, produced by Kevin Tierney of Park Ex Pictures and distributed by K-Films Amérique.

* Vet Quebec actress Carole Laure will direct Le Règne de Rose, about paternal violence, produced by Equinoxe Films and Les Productions Laure, a copro with Flach Films, to be distributed by Equinoxe.

* Tout est parfait, directed by Yves-Christian Fournier, tells the story of a man getting over the suicide of a friend. Produced by Nicole Robert of Go Films and to be distributed by Vivafilm.

* Emotional Arithmetic, cowritten by Jefferson Lewis and Paolo Barzman, is another cinematic meditation on the Holocaust, this one to star Susan Sarandon and Max von Sydow. Directed by Barzman, it’s produced by Suzanne Girard of Productions BBR and Anna Stratton and Robin Cass of Triptych Media, distributed by Seville.

* Shameless marks Arto Paragamian’s (Two Thousand and None) return to filmmaking, with a movie about parent-child relations, produced by Roger Frappier and Luc Vandal for Studiofilm and distributed by VAT.

* Screenwriter Steve Galluccio (Mambo Italiano) will again team with director Émile Gaudreault for The Yellow Woman, about a group of tightly knit Italian women who form a circle of friends. Denise Robert and Daniel Louis produce for Cinémaginaire and Vivafilm is distributing.