Theatrical doc program budget back to $1.5M as NFB comes on board

Following earlier funding cuts that saw Telefilm slash its contribution to the program by half, the NFB has joined with Telefilm and the Rogers Group of Funds to restore the program's budget.
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The National Film Board of Canada has partnered with Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds for the Theatrical Documentary Program, restoring the program’s budget to $1.5 million per year.

Each partner will contribute $500,000 towards the fund, which aims to boost audiences and support and production of theatrical documentaries with the potential for commercial success.

“As Canada’s public producer and distributor, the NFB is participating in the Theatrical Documentary Program in order to contribute its resources and expertise to supporting Canadian filmmakers in their crucial work of producing films that reflect Canadian social and cultural realities,” said government film commissioner and NFB chairperson Tom Perlmutter in a statement.

“Our new partnership is very promising, and it will surely contribute to the success of Canadian documentaries. As the largest producer and distributor of documentaries in Canada, the National Film Board of Canada is an ideal partner,” added Rogers Group of Funds exec director Robin Mirsky-Daniels in her own statement.

Earlier this year, Canadian documentary funding underwent drastic cuts, with Telefilm slashing its allotment to the Theatrical Documentary Program in half, from $1 million to $500,000, following a $10.6 million federal budget chop from the agency’s government allocation over the next three years.

At the time, Telefilm exec director Carolle Brabant said, in a statement to Playback sister publication realscreen, that supporting homegrown documentaries remained important to the organization, and reiterated an earlier agency statement that it was in “promising discussions with potential partners to make up the difference in funding for the theatrical documentary program.”

“Bravo to the National Film Board, Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds for investing in long-form documentary filmmaking, which is arguably Canada’s national art form,” said Director’s Guild of Canada president and filmmaker Sturla Gunnarson, in response to the newly restored fund.

Canadian doc makers, including Gunnarson, had earlier hit back at Telefilm’s decision to slash its funds for theatrical documentary production, warning that the move was “the wrong message to send.”

Since 2005, the Theatrical Documentary Program has supported 44 productions, including Isabelle Lavigne and Stéphane Thibault’s La nuit, ells dansent, and Yung Chang’s China Heavyweight.

The program deadline and guidelines will be released in the week of Aug. 20.