Canuck Pix Make A Hefty Contribution

Canada will have a higher profile than usual at this year’s Berlinale, with five features in the lineup, including Toronto helmer Patricia Rozema’s “When Night Is Falling” in competition. This steamy lesbian love story from the director of “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing” is the first Canadian picture to compete at Berlin since David Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch” in 1992.

Produced by Crucial Pictures, “Night” features Quebec star Pascale Bussieres (from TV’s “Blanche”), Rachael Crawford and Henry Czerny (“The Boys of St. Vincent”) in the lead roles. Alliance Communications has world rights.

“Berlin has a tremendous appetite for gay and lesbian films,” says Alliance senior VP, film sales Charlotte Mickie. “‘Night’ is very entertaining and visually interesting. It’s a crossover film that people of all sexual orientations will enjoy.”

Other Canadian pix at Berlin are “Double Happiness” and indie pic “The Soul Investigator,” both in the Forum. The two in Panorama are “Eclipse” and “The Last Supper.”

Last year was a relatively quiet one for feature filming in Canada. However, the next 18 months may be more productive, with most of the country’s top helmers set to return to work.

Montreal producer Denise Robert has two of the most eagerly awaited projects. The first is “Le Confessionnal,” a first pic from hot Quebec theater director Robert Lepage. The psycho-thriller stars Lothaire Bluteau (“Jesus of Montreal”), and is co-produced by Robert, Philippe Carcassonne and David Puttnam. Robert also has the next pic from Denys Arcand, an English-lingo drama called “Beautiful.”

Alliance is set to produce “No Other Life,” helmed by Costa-Gavras and penned by novelist Brian Moore from his own novel. Still at the script stage, it will be distributed by Universal in the U.S.

Atom Egoyan will begin work in earnest on his next pic – his first adaptation – after the publicity tour to boost the launch of “Exotica” in the U.S. in March.

Alliance currently is lensing “Never Talk to Strangers,” an erotic thriller toplining Rebecca DeMornay and Antonio Banderas, directed by U.K. director Sir Peter Hall. To be distributed in the U.S. and in selected foreign territories by TriStar Pictures, Alliance Intl. and MDP Worldwide will have some world rights.

Montreal director Francois Girard will shoot his first feature since “Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould,” a French-lingo pic to be produced by Productions du Cerf. Helmer Charles Biname (“Chili’s Blues”) will unveil his second feature, “Eldorado,” a Generation-X drama starring Bussieres, in Quebec early next month. There’s also talk that “Leolo” director Jean-Claude Lauzon will write a new script.

Producer Roger Frappier has just completed work on “L’enfant d’eau,” shot in the Bahamas and Quebec by Robert Menard.

Montreal-based Aska Films hopes to begin shooting “Pudding Chomeur,” a new comedy from veteran writer-director Gilles Carle, in the coming months. Productions La Fete has two new entries in its “Tales for All” kidpix series: “Dancing on the Moon” and “Letters from Santa,” a Canadian-German production helmed by Berlin-based Thomas Draeger.

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