Telefilm unveils discoverability initiatives

The cultural agency is partnering with iTunes, VIA Rail and the NFB, among others, to promote Cancon in 2017.

As part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations and Telefilm Canada’s 50th birthday, the federal cultural agency has launched five new discoverability initiatives to help promote Canadian films in 2017.

Telefilm and several distributors have curated a “Canada First” collection of films available exclusively on iTunes. The collection showcases 150 Canadian films released between 2005 and 2016, and includes films such as Canada/Ireland copros Room and Brooklyn (both Best Picture Oscar nominees in 2016), as well as Sarah Polley’s Away from Her and Xavier Dolan’s Mommy. 

“This is a really great opportunity to work with our Canadian distributors, who were already making this content available [on iTunes]. What we’re doing though is promoting it as Canadian,” Francesca Accinelli, director of national promotion and communications at Telefilm told Playback Daily. 

The iTunes collection launched last week as part of Canada 150, but the agency hopes it will be available long past 2017. Carolyn Pennell, consumer analyst at Telefilm, said the agency sees this as an ongoing initiative and is encouraging filmmakers – and the public – to get in touch with more films to add to the collection. 

The decision to partner with iTunes came about after Telefilm did research into films that were performing well commercially and discovered most of which were already available on the platform, said Pennell.

Accinelli said that they’re really pushing the industry to get involved and help drive audiences to the iTunes collection.

“Our hope is that the industry, knowing now that they have a place to really drive [audiences], that they too will be pushing to iTunes,” she said. “We do need that groundswell of people coming together to promote, under one brand, one banner.”

While the “Canada First collection” is only available on iTunes in Canada, Telefilm is also partnering with digital film distribution company Under the Milky Way to make Canadian films available internationally on different digital platforms.

Under the Milky Way provides research into international markets to determine which kinds of films will do best and on which platforms. Telefilm will then collect that data to better understand what and how consumers in those markets are watching. “One of the things we know is that David Cronenberg content is loved in Germany. So how can we at Telefilm, if needed, help it become available? Is it helping to subtitle [or] digitize the content?” said Alcinelli.

Telefilm, Les Films Seville and VIA Rail have also partnered on a new discoverability initiative. Through VIA’s on-train entertainment system a variety of Canadian shows and news are available for free viewing. This year, VIA will also make 40 Canadian films available to passengers travelling the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. According to a release, more than 3.6 million trips are made along the corridor every year.

For its part, the National Film Board of Canada will offer an “Emerging Talents” web channel, which will offer rentals of micro-budget first features from Canadian filmmakers. The current lineup includes Julie Lambert’s Girls on the Hunt and Sonia Bonspille Boileau’s Le Dep. 

Telefilm is also partnering with film preservation project, Elephant, which has been digitally remastering Quebec cinema since its launch in 2008. Through this Canada 150 partnership, Elephant will subtitle nearly 50 Quebec classics in Spanish, making them available for Spanish-language film festivals in the U.S. and Latin America, as well as on iTunes. Québecor, iTunes, Technicolor and the Centre de la francophonie d’Amérique are also partners in this initiative. “A number of years ago Telefilm did some research into how Canadian content did in Latin America. We actually started focusing some of our international initiatives in being more present in Latin countries. So when Elephant came to us with this proposal, we thought it was a natural extension in terms of the work that’s already been done,” explained Accinelli.

Telefilm will promote all of its initiatives through promoted tweets on Twitter and by leveraging events like its Movie Nights Across Canada. While Telefilm soft launched its “Canada First” marketing campaign last year, now with its iTunes, VIA and NFB initiatives in particular, the agency has places to direct audiences to find Cancon.

“When you’re promoting, you have to drive people somewhere. You need a call to action,” she said.

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