Between the Moon & Montevideo films on location in Old Havana

Montreal: Director Attila Bertalan starts filming on his new feature Between the Moon and Montevideo on location in Old Havana June 7. Highly resourceful, Bertalan wrote the screenplay and is also producing alongside Pascal Maeder. The producers have amassed just over $900,000 to pay for five weeks of filming in Cuba.

The film is described as a futuristic drama about one man’s struggle to escape from a bleak and corrupted post-industrial colony orbiting between Earth and the Moon.

Pascale Bussieres (Eldorado, Un 32 Aout sur Terre) stars. The actress is rumored to have turned down a major movie for this film.

Producer Maeder says the film will be sold to a distributor after it’s completed. ‘We’re negotiating with a few local and u.s. distributors.’ Maeder directed and produced the ’95 feature Motel.

Bertalan’s debut feature, A Bullet in the Head, was Canada’s official selection in the best foreign-language category at the 1992 Academy Awards. His latest is the feature doc Sheep Calls and Shoplifters.

Francois Dagenais (Malevolence, Mascara) is the dop. Pierre Allard (Cosmos, 2 Secondes) is the art director. Aube Foglia (Une Histoire inventee, No) is editing and Bruno Lazaro is pm.

Between the Moon and Montevideo is a Creon Productions feature budgeted at $906,000, with funding from Telefilm Canada (over $300,000), sodec ($150,000), the Canada Council, the National Film Board (which is providing post-production services), the Canadian and Quebec tax credit programs, and TMN-The Movie Network, which thoughtfully came up with some prebuy money.

‘We got the answer [from Telefilm] this year, but it’s last year’s money,’ says Maeder.

* Telescene shoots Blackheart, Fearless

Telescene Film Group has wrapped the two-hour Action Adventure Network tv movie pilot Blackheart (working title). Shot on location in Montreal, principal photography began April 12 and went to May 14. The film (aka Monster Smasher) premiers in December on DirecTv, with a 20-hour series follow-up in the planning stage, says Telescene president and ceo Robin Spry. The budget is $4 million.

Directed by Erik Canuel (Hemingway: A Portrait, The Hunger), Blackheart is a dark action-adventure, sci-fi comedy about a reconstructed American hero raised from the dead to lead the battle against an evil scientist and his monster minions. Robert Bogue (Sex and the City, oz) is Blackheart. Kenneth Welsh, Chris Heyerdahl and Karen Elkin also star.

New Line Syndication is handling u.s. syndication sales. The Fremantle Group has international.

Telescene and aan are also shooting a second tv movie pilot, Fearless. It films April 26 to May 22 on location in New Zealand.

aan is a $200-million-plus u.s. production venture between Telescene, Richmel Productions and Goodman/Rosen Productions. aan projects include a first-run movie pilot followed by multiple one-hour episodes based on the pilot. The programs debut on DirecTv.

aan’s series lineup (in concert with its u.s. executive production partners) includes: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (John Landis, Leslie Belzberg), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Francis Ford Coppola), Gulliver: The New Voyages (Steven E. de Souza) and Witness to Fear (Clive Barker).

Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon) is the exec producer of Blackheart.

Telescene is a publicly traded company based in Montreal with offices in New York and Los Angeles. Its agm is July 28 in Montreal.

* Toujours l’amour

Director/writer Claude Demers is finally shooting his first feature. He’s done a couple of well-received dramatic shorts – Le Diable est une petite fille, Une Nuit avec toi – but has wanted to direct a feature for more than 10 years.

His new film, an evocative, contemporary tale of urban love called L’Invention de l’Amour, is out of Les Films de l’Autre, with David Lahaye, Delphine Brodeur and Irene Stamou in leading roles. Pop star Jean Leloup is on for a small cameo.

The film tells the story of a rather cynical writer (Lahaye’s character) on the rebound from an affair with a Greek woman. He meets a young prostitute (Brodeur’s character) and later meets a happily married woman, Charlotte, and has a torrid affair with her.

‘It’s more about their passion, desire and eroticism,’ says the director. ‘I want to draw out the confusion around love in our era – the loneliness, bisexuality, all the confusion and desire so people don’t really know anymore. In fact, in my story, everybody is in love with someone who doesn’t love them.’

Demers had yet to cast the lead role of Charlotte, ‘although there’s a very well-known actress who is on call-back tomorrow [May 7].’

The Super 16 shoot starts May 24 and goes to June 19. Robert Wilson-Smith is the line producer. dop Nicolas Bolduc is filming his first feature and Marie-Helene Panisset is the art director. Claude Palardy (Le Coeur de Poing) is editing.

The film is budgeted at $600,000, but the director, who is also producing, is looking for more cash. Funding includes Telefilm Canada and sodec, in for $150,000 each, with an advance from distributor Remstar against Canadian rights.

L’Invention de l’Amour has signed contracts with Union des Artistes and the stcvq freelance film technicians union.

* Where’s that DOP?

Unlike the bad old days when directors on international tv series were pretty much all from Toronto, producers here are now hiring locally, says Susan Schneir of Montreal’s Blitz Management.

Schneir says more directors will be named to serial work in the weeks ahead, but many directors of photography are already signed to spring and early summer shoots.

In terms of Blitz’s dop stable, Yves Belanger is signed to shoot Cinequest Films’ The List, Sylvain Guy’s English version of the Jean-Marc Vallee thriller Liste Noire.

Daniel Villeneuve, winner of the best cinematography award for Ozias Leduc: Painter of the Soul’s Seasons at last year’s Hot Docs, is prepping a new mow from the producers of The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, and Georges Arcambault will shoot the new 13-hour Fabienne Larouche tv crime drama Fortier, with Francois Gingras directing.

New client John Dyer just wrapped the Telescene Film Group tv movie pilot Blackheart (aka Monster Smasher), and Pierre Jodoin, who’s completing filming on the second 10 hours of the Emergence drama series Reseaux, is signed to shoot Believe, a Robert Tinnell feature for Melenny Productions producer Richard Goudreau. A deal for dop Marc Charlesbois is pending.

Schneir says while a Toronto director and cinematographer can score gigs on a Quebec/Ontario coproduction shot in Montreal – The Unconcerned is a recent example – Montreal directors and dops are ‘virtually shut out’ in terms of returning the favor ‘because of their [Ontario] tax credit system.’

‘As you can see it’s beginning to get going,’ says Schneir, ‘but what’s really going to be interesting is when the series start in the summer and all the directors will have their chance.

‘Even if they’re [the tv series] sold to u.s. networks, and if they are based out of Cinar or Telescene or one of the companies here, they are using more and more [local] directors because we’ve shown them our talent runs quite deep. In the past five years our directors have come a long way.’

* Babel wins at Sprockets popularity contest

The Canada/France family film Babel was voted most popular film at last month’s Sprockets – Toronto International Film Festival for Children, winning the YTV Silver Sprocket Award. The $18-million, effects-laden feature was released on more than 250 screens in France early this month and is slated for an English- and French-language release in Canada by Motion International later this summer.

Babel was shot on location in Montreal in 1998 and is a coproduction between Coscient Group’s international drama group and Ima Films of Paris.