Slate includes 'Violin' helmer, McKellar, Maddin

TORONTO — Canadian production company Rhombus Media of Toronto and Montreal-based distributor TVA Films unveiled their new Canuck pic lineup, which includes films from helmers Francois Girard, Don McKellar and Guy Maddin. Rhombus, which produced Girard’s “Red Violin” and McKellar’s “Last Night,” will produce with TVA taking Canadian rights to the pics.

“The Far Road” is a C$13 million ($8 million) Canada-Hong Kong co-production, written and directed by Girard, and set to shoot in southern China in late February. Based on George Johnston’s 1963 novel, pic chronicles the harrowing true-life journey of two journos in the last days of World War II.

Overseas Film Group has all international rights outside Canada to “Road.” It is Girard’s first pic since “The Red Violin,” one of the most successful Canadian films of the past decade.

Sitcom star

“Child Star,” directed by McKellar and penned by McKellar and Mike Goldbach, tells the tale of 12-year-old Taylor Brandon Burns, a sitcom star who comes to Toronto with his mother to shoot his first pic, “The First Son.” Pic is set to shoot in Toronto in the spring of 2003.

McKellar also co-wrote Girard’s previous two features, “The Red Violin” and “Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.”

Based on an original screenplay by British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (“Remains of the Day”), “The Saddest Music in the World” is co-written by helmer Maddin (“Careful”). Set in Depression-era Winnipeg, pic is about two brothers who try to determine the saddest piece of music in the world. Pic will be launched by TVA in fall 2003.

The three pics will be produced by Fichman and Danny Iron from Rhombus.

“Rhombus is extremely excited to be embarking on these new projects with our friends at TVA,” Fichman said. “We have had a long association with many of the principals in the company, and feel a strong kinship in their dedication to a thriving and vibrant Canadian feature film culture.”

Fresh direction

This marks a major new commitment to Canuck pics for TVA, which has gone through big changes over the past year. TVA recently pacted with Lions Gate Films to create a joint venture, JV Media, to release pics in English Canada and set-up a similar joint venture, Topaze Communications, with Christal Films of Montreal to distribute pics in French Canada.

“These are films made by some of Canada’s top auteurs with the goal of reaching large audiences,” said TVA Films president Pierre Lampron. “We’re delivering a message with this — that we will be aggressive about Canadian film.

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