Dealmakers scouting Fantasia

Sale of the controversial doc Your Mommy Kills Animals is the latest sign that the Montreal fest is a hot spot for fantasy, horror and other genre deals

MONTREAL — Your Mommy Kills Animals, the controversial doc about the animal-rights movement, has sealed a deal for its worldwide theatrical and home video rights at the Fantasia Film Festival, going to L.A.-based Halo-8 Entertainment.

The sale announced on Wednesday is the latest indication that the Montreal fest — long a popular stop for fans of fantasy, kung fu and esoteric docs — is attracting business from south of the border.

YMKA has outraged many in the animal-rights movement, who feel the film is too critical of some activists, in particular People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Members of PETA, the largest animal-rights activist group in America, suspended their involvement with the film halfway through shooting. YMKA is directed by Curt Johnson, who won an Oscar in 2002 for producing the documentary Thoth.

‘We thought this was an incredibly unique documentary film,’ says Matt Pizzolo, president of Halo-8. ‘It’s a very even-handed film in the way in which it portrays the people involved in the movement. So often today documentaries go for one side or the other, they don’t allow the audience to decide. We were very moved by the film, and picking it up was a no-brainer.’

Fantasia, now in its eleventh year, started as a fest at which self-described film geeks could see strange and overlooked films. Its fare is best likened to the Midnight Madness program of the Toronto International Film Festival, and is popular with filmmakers who know they will get big houses.

But the festival is gaining a reputation as a marketplace. In 2003, Montreal producer Nicole Robert sold the English-language remake rights of the $3.3-million Quebec horror film Sur le seuil (Evil Words) to Dimension Pictures, a subsidiary of Miramax, at Fantasia. The deal indicated that a growing number of studios were sending scouts to find low-budget horrors.

In May, programmer Mitch Davis signed a deal with Paramount-based Blumhouse Productions and Room 101 — which specialize in the horror genre — to scout new horror talent. Davis programmed YMKA, but did not have a hand in its deal.

‘We’re thrilled that a deal like this could have been struck at Fantasia,’ he says. ‘This is a truly fascinating film and it deserves to reach a wide audience.’ The festival runs July 5-23.