Auteurs line up against Macerola

Villeneuve, Falardeau and Dolan among 300 filmmakers at odds with SODEC boss over move towards commercial films

MONTREAL — A group of more than 300 Quebec filmmakers — among them Philippe Falardeau, Denis Villeneuve and Xavier Dolan — are protesting SODEC head François Macerola’s plans to make the funding agency more oriented to commercial films.

The group, called A Tout Prendre after the Claude Jutra film, has published an open letter in two French-language dailies, launched an online petition and on Wednesday will host a public debate at Montreal’s Cinémathèque Québécoise to discuss Macerola’s plans to create a private fund to support commercial films and to scrap SODEC’s stated objective of funding ‘cinema d’auteur.’

‘His strategic plan will ultimately support big distribution and production companies which already benefit from Telefilm’s performance envelope,’ the filmmakers said in their letter.

The auteur community is concerned because Macerola is one of the fathers of Telefilm Canada’s controversial performance envelope system, which rewards box office success — prompting complaints that it leads to ‘Hollywoodization.’ (What do you think? Email us!)

‘I don’t think he understands the Quebec milieu… SODEC is our life support, without it we wouldn’t survive, ‘ one independent film producer told Playback Daily. ‘He’s used to being at Telefilm where he has to respond to ministerial objectives, and box office is their obsession.’

The filmmakers started their campaign nearly three weeks after the former Telefilm director said he wanted the makers of commercial films to feel more welcome at SODEC. ‘I don’t see why SODEC should be less proud to invest in De père en flic than J’ai tué ma mère. I don’t want Telefilm to be the only ones who fund profitable films,’ Macerola told journalists, including Playback Daily, at an industry gathering at the end of March. He also said that he wanted to set up a fund for private investors to finance more commercial titles.

Although Macerola has said he supports artistic film and won’t introduce the performance envelope system at SODEC, he does want to change the method used to finance features.

The SODEC director did not respond to an interview request for this article.