Telefilm Canada and Birks to celebrate top Canadian talent in Cannes

The launch of the inaugural Birks Canadian Diamond comes as the federal agency continues to push for more two- and three-way film co-productions with Canadian producers to be forged on the Croissette.

Continuing its efforts to uncover hidden overseas success for Canadian films, Telefilm Canada has turned to a prestigious Canadian jeweller to launch the Birks Canadian Diamond awards, starting at the Cannes Film Festival later this month.

“This year is an extraordinary one for Canada at Cannes — what better moment for the creation of a tribute and an award that recognize the passion and energy that fuels Canadian cinema,” Carolle Brabant, executive director of Telefilm Canada, said of her pact with Birks to honor Canadian filmmaking talent that shines internationally.

The Birks Canadian Diamond’s first recipients will be feted at a Telefilm Canada “Tribute To Canadian Talent” reception on May 23 at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

The tie-up with Birks is the latest public-private partnership launched by the federal agency as it looks to diversify funding support for homegrown films away from public subsidies.

That includes the recent launch of the $5 million private donation fund for Canadian film, backed by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The plan is rope in private partners like Birks who are more used to sponsoring Canadian film festivals than filmmakers themselves.

The Cannes tribute involving Birks also aims to help foster increasing international co-productions involving Canadians.

Telefilm Canada, which is moving beyond domestic box office to measure the critical and commercial success of Canadian movies overseas, on Wednesday unveiled research data that underlined the importance of foreign production coin and partners to the industry back home.

Telefilm reported that the five- year total for the volume of Canadian feature film treaty co-production budgets between 2006 and 2010 came to $1.02 billion.

That total included the domestic and foreign budgets of 111 Canadian feature film international co-productions.

Photo: Cannes red carpet /