TIFF evolving into copro venue?

Indie film producer Christina Piovesan is learning the virtue of patience.
The Whistleblower

Indie film producer Christina Piovesan is learning the virtue of patience.

A flurry of deal-making Wednesday has place a number of foreign titles into the hands of Canadian distributors for upcoming local releases.

But deals for Canadian films like Piovesan’s Rachel Weisz-starrer The Whistleblower have so far eluded TIFF’s unofficial film market, with the exception of Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies going stateside to Sony Pictures Classics.

Piovesan of First Generation Films has buzz round her movie by director Larysa Kondracki about a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and was outed for covering up a sex scandal, and buyer interest.

“We were pleased,” Piovesan said of buyer interest after the first Toronto public screening, with UTA now sorting through possible U.S. buyers to secure the best possible deal for the film.

The Whistleblower also has a name in Weisz and fellow stars Monica Belluci and Vanessa Redgrave, so the planets are aligned for an eventual sale after Toronto if one doesn’t emerge before the festival wraps on Sunday.

But meanwhile the festival is reshaping the upcoming release slates for Canadian distributors as their U.S. partners finally leap into the acquisitions saddle.

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions picked up the Robert Redford drama The Conspirator from CAA after its world premiere in Toronto.

Maple Pictures, the Canadian partner for both Lionsgate and Roadside, will not distribute the Abraham Lincoln assassination conspiracy drama north of the border, leaving it open to rival distributors as part of a future deal.

Elsewhere, Alliance Films is likely to snag the British coming-of-age film Submarine after the Weinstein Co. acquired the film’s U.S. and Canadian rights on Wednesday.

Alliance, the Weinstein Co.’s Canadian partner, is also expected to get the Dirty Girl, which stars William H. Macy, Milla Jovovich, Tim McGraw and newcomer Juno Temple, and which was picked up earlier in the festival by the U.S. distributor.

Submarine, which is executive produced by Ben Stiller, is from writer/director Richard Ayoade, and portrays a 15-year old boy, played by Craig Roberts, who tries to lose his virginity while keeping his mother and father from divorcing.

And IFC Films acquired the U.S. rights, excluding TV, to Werner Herzog’s 3-D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, while Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions picked up the North American rights to James Wan’s Insidous, which debuted Tuesday night in Toronto as part of the Midnight Movies sidebar.

On the Canadian film side, sellers will likely have to wait until the weeks and months after the Toronto festival to seal deals for their Canuck titles to see them released into foreign markets.

In place of a market, Toronto is now becoming a venue for Canadian producers to secure pre-sales or co-production partners for their upcoming movie projects.

“I hope to sell the film. But because Canada can be a hub for co-productions, it’s (Toronto) a good opportunity to meet with foreign producers,” Piovesan said.

First Generation Films’ next project: Deborah Chow’s Billy Bones, an $8 million fantasy thriller, and a follow-up to the Canadian director’s debut feature High Cost of Living unspooling this week at TIFF.