Telefilm unveils 2020 Talent to Watch cohort, ups funding cap

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A total of 16 projects from recipients such as Grace Glowicki and Kawennahere Devery Jacobs will benefit from the funding cap increase to $150,000.

Telefilm has announced the third annual cohort of its Talent to Watch Program, with projects from writer and director Grace Glowicki and actor/writer/producer Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs among the recipients.

The number of film-making teams in this year’s cohort has been greatly reduced from the previous year, with 16 projects selected in 2020, compared to 31 chosen in 2019. However, newly announced this year, the maximum amount of funds has increased from $125,000 to $150,000 per project.

The Talent to Watch program was rebranded from the Micro-budget Production Program in 2017 to increase the amount of projects from emerging creators selected for funding, with plans to select up to 50 projects per year. The inaugural cohort in 2018 consisted of 45 selections, but was reduced in the proceeding year following industry feedback, citing that “refined selection of projects” would benefit recipients.

Of the 16 filmmaking teams chosen, 50% include a female director, 13 are considered culturally diverse, and one recipient identifies as gender diverse. Three projects from Indigenous creators were previously revealed as part of the Indigenous Stream funding announcement last week.

Five films were selected from Ontario, including Bitter Sweat to be directed by D.W. Waterson (The D Cut), written by Caitlin English and produced by Jacobs, best known for acting roles in American Gods, Blood Quantum and The Order; Doug Find Rose from writer/director Glowicki – whose feature debut Tito premiered at SXSW in 2019 – and producer Harry Cepka; French-language webseries Blokus from writer/director Josiane Blanc and producer Ania Jamila; Mariam, from writer/director Hamza Bangash and producer Anam Abbas; The Good Guise from the team behind the 2019 WIFT-T Audience Award winner Turning Tables, writer/director Chrisann Hessing and producer Tanya Hoshi; and When the Morning Comes, by previous Talent to Watch recipients, write/director Kelly Fyffe-Marshall and producer Tamar Bird.

The four B.C.-based recipients include director Jason Karman, writer Gorman Lee and producer Kristyn Stilling for Golden Delicious, which was previously selected for Inside Out’s Film Financing Forum; Mongrels, from writer/director Jerome Yoo and producer Nach Dudsdeemaytha; The Chinatown Diner from co-writer and director Lawrence Le Lam, co-writer Tesh Guttikonda and producer Thomas Affolter; and the previously announced Querencia by writer/director Mary Galloway and producer Jessie Anthony.

The two other announced Indigenous projects are The Green Waterways from New Brunswick team Kennlin Barlow (writer/director) and Corrina Merasty (producer), and Manitoba’s Alter Boys from writer/director Jonathan Lawrence and producer Ryan Cooper.

The Quebec-based projects are Jour de merde from writer/director Kevin T. Landry and producer Kélyna N. Lauzier; and Les quintessences from writer, director and producer Philippe David Gagné.

Rounding out the picks are the Atlantic selections, including Nova Scotia’s Compulsus, from writer/director Tara Thorne and producer Nicole Steeves; and New Brunswick French-language project Fred l’handicapé from director Emmanuelle Landry, writer Frédéric Mallet and producer André Roy.

Recipients will share a $2.2 million pot from the Talent Fund, which is fueled through donations. More than $17 million has been raised through the Talent Fund since it was founded in 2012, according to Telefilm, with more than 150 features and webseries supported.

The selection committee included directors Sharon Lewis (Brown Girl Begins), Yonah Lewis (White Lie) and Talent to Watch alum Heather Young (Murmur), and producers Lori Lozinski (The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open) and Talent to Watch alum Allison White (Cast No Shadow). The French-language projects were selected by an internal jury at Telefilm “due to limitations caused by COVID-19,” while the external jury for the Indigenous selections asked to remain anonymous.