‘Mistake’ sends fund to early grave

OTTAWA — Robin Jackson is spending her last weeks as executive director of the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund tying up loose ends to ensure the fund is shuttered by month’s end.

Her last-ditch attempt to restore Ottawa’s $1.5 million in funding, made last week before parliament’s Heritage committee, failed.

The CIFVF had been told last summer that its funding would continue to May 2010. However, shortly after Jackson received the good news via letter, she says she was informed by the government that there had been mistake and that the money would cease after 2009.

No one at the Department of Canadian Heritage could be reached at press time for comment.

The 20-year-old fund has received money from Heritage since 2000. BDUs have also contributed to the fund. It once received about $1 million from Shaw Communications, but that eventually dropped to $100,000 and was cut completely last year after the CRTC changed some of its BDUs contribution rules — allowing the money to be diverted to a local programming fund for conventional TV stations.

At the committee hearings, Jackson says the feds indicated CIFVF was ‘no longer a priority — that feature film is the priority.’

Probably the best-known project supported by the fund — established to help ensure there was Canadian audiovisual content for use in schools, universities and libraries — was the hit documentary The Corporation.

‘Many of these emerging filmmakers who started out with the CIFVF have gone on to work in television, drama and feature films,’ says Jackson, adding that the $1.5 million doled out by the fund generates $20.4 million in production.

Among the producers who received CIFVF funding early in their careers are Zacharias Kunuk, who went on to win a Camera d’Or at Cannes for his feature The Fast Runner; Paul Pope, who produced the feature film Rare Birds; and producers Phyllis Laing and Liz Jarvis, who were involved with The Stone Angel, which premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.

‘As the CIFVF is the only funding agency that does not require a broadcast licence and that is an extremely important fact for new young and emerging producers, it will be more difficult for documentary producers to find money to make educational and informational audiovisual materials,’ says Jackson.