Jump Cuts

Group appeals Multivan licence

Ethnic TV station Multivan Broadcasting Corp. may delay its fall launch now that a group of Vancouver residents is appealing the Feb. 14 CRTC decision that denied the competing bid from Rogers Broadcasting.

‘We have to be careful about long-term commitments,’ says Multivan partner Doug Holtby, adding the new station is about to choose one of three Vancouver locations for its base of operations. He says he isn’t surprised by the appeal because of how bitterly Rogers took the loss.

The Community Coalition for a Fair Hearing filed a petition March 28 with the federal cabinet, a similar process that worked two years ago to get Rogers a third try at an ethnic station in Vancouver.

The group is appealing on the grounds that the commission’s three-to-two decision in favor of Multivan is ‘clearly contrary to the needs and interests of the ethnic communities living in the Vancouver television market’ and ‘calls into serious question the legitimacy and integrity of the commission’s entire licensing process.’

The appeal, which is an option to the licence-granting process, must be addressed by mid-May.

Movieola, Stornoway end in divorce

After more than seven months under the Stornoway umbrella, Channel Zero’s Movieola is looking for a new home.

According to Cal Millar, cofounder of Channel Zero – owner of the short film channel – Stornoway had picked up majority interest in Movieola last summer, in part on condition that the broadcaster employ the four founders of the channel, Millar, Anthony D’Andrea, Harold Balde and Romen Podzyhun.

However, in March, when Stornoway cut half its staff in a move to compensate for high start-up costs and lower-than-expected revenue, D’Andrea and Balde were let go.

‘We gave them notice that the deal would not close unless the breach was [rectified], but that didn’t happen,’ says Millar. On March 25, the deal was terminated, on account that Stornoway would not reverse its decision, and Millar was let go. Podzyhun subsequently resigned and Movieola is now on the block.

Stornoway president and CEO Martha Fusca was unavailable for comment.

Millar confirms all but two of the major broadcasters are interested in the channel that boasts roughly 200,000 subscribers on cable and DTH combined. Movieola is not carried on Shaw or Star Choice.

Fat Girl appeal

The codistributors of Catherine Breillat’s feature Fat Girl, Cowboy Pictures of New York and Lions Gate Films, have begun legal proceedings to appeal the decision of the Ontario Film Review Board to ban the controversial French film from the province.

The appeal not only challenges the banning of the film, which was released in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec, but the constitutionality of the legislation that gives the OFRB the power to ban movies in the province.

Last year, the board cited scenes in the film containing teenage nudity and sexual interaction, and demanded roughly 15 minutes of cuts before it could be approved.

The codistribs refused to cut Fat Girl, described as a feminist portrayal of two teenage sisters who are awakened to the realities of sexual rites of passage in contemporary society. The film stars Arsinee Khanjian.

Lawyer Craig Martin from Toronto’s Stikeman Elliott is leading the battle in the Divisional Court, Ontario Supreme Court of Justice.

The Ministry of Consumer and Business Services is representing the OFRB, with the Attorney General of Ontario defending the constitutionality of the legislation.

Gesca opens TV prodco

Gesca, the publisher of daily newspaper La Presse, has opened a TV production company, La Presse Tele. The new house is headed by president Andre Provencher, a former independent producer and senior VP with TVA Group. Provencher is also president and publisher of Trois Rivieres-based daily Le Nouvelliste and specialty publisher Editions Gesca.

La Presse Tele’s first production is a daily service series for Radio-Canada.

Gesca, headed by president Guy Crevier, owns seven French-language daily newspapers, operates an Internet site (www.cyberpresse.ca) and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Corp. of Canada (TSE: POW).

Box-office update

Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution reports the Paul Gross romantic comedy Men With Brooms earned an additional $110,000 on 83 screens over the April 5-7 weekend. The cumulative take up to April 7 (31 days) was $3.74 million.

In a statement, AAMPD and the film’s producer, Serendipity Point Films, announced Men With Brooms has become the top-grossing, homegrown English-Canadian film in two decades with $3.52 million in box-office receipts in its first 24 days of Canadian theatrical release.

‘In less than four weeks, Men With Brooms has surpassed many English Canadian box office landmarks such as The Red Violin $3,378,800; Johnny Mnemonic $2,816,900; Black Robe $2,584,900; eXistenz $1,566,700; Crash $1,554,200: The Sweet Hereafter $1,500,000; Sunshine $996,500; Margaret’s Museum $914,700; New Waterford Girl $848,000; The Hanging Garden $801,000.’

In Quebec, Christal Films Distribution reports the Richard Ciupka family comedy La Mysterieuse Mademoiselle C. had grossed more than $472,000 after three weeks in release, an excellent result considering reduced ticket prices for the film’s primary audience and matinee screenings.

Christal invested close to $400,000 in the film’s marketing campaign, with major sponsorship support from Tim Hortons. La Mysterieuse Mlle C. was produced by Films Vision 4. It opened on 41 Quebec screens March 27.

Miramax, Dimension to distrib Keystone pics

Through a new three-year output deal announced March 26, Miramax and Dimension Films will distribute at least six new family features by International Keystone Entertainment of Vancouver.

Miramax, which is the U.S. distributor for Keystone’s Air Bud franchise, has the option to acquire U.S. rights to projects in development and production, but Keystone will retain Canada and rest of the world.

Duct Tape on 86 screens

Distributor TVA Films opened Red Green’s Duct Tape Forever on 86 screens across Canada on Friday, April 12. The film’s star and writer, Steve Smith (aka Red Green), crisscrossed the country three weeks prior to the opening.

While TVA did not specify the film’s P&A budget, thought to be in the $700,000, it did say TV spots were purchased on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, on Citytv, Global Television and on CTV and on affiliate stations across the country.

Smith’s New Red Green Show draws on average one million viewers weekly on CBC. The show is also broadcast on The Comedy Network and on 100 PBS stations in the U.S. A spokesperson for TVA in Toronto says the TV series has a 100,000-member fan club, and the film’s website (www.ducttapeforever.com) received more than half a million hits during a recent two-week period.

Duct Tape Forever, directed by Eric Till and starring Patrick McKenna, Graham Greene and Smith, follows the gang at Possum Lodge as they try to save their treasured meeting place by entering a duct-tape sculpting competition.

The film was shot over 25 days early last summer and is produced by Toronto’s S&S Productions, which also produces the TV series.

Image Festival turns 15

The Images Festival of Independent Film and Video is celebrating its 15th anniversary April 11-20 in Toronto. The lineup includes more than 150 film and video works being shown at 26 screening programs. The festival is presenting MediaActive, a series on art and activism, and FLOW, an exhibition of various film, video and new media installations displayed at galleries throughout Toronto.

More than half the work in this year’s festival comes from Canadian artists.

This year, Images introduces the annual Tom Berner Award, given to an individual who has offered extraordinary support to independent filmmakers. The award will be presented at the festival’s Closing Night Gala.