Quebec adds more coin for local pix

Gov't to give extra C$10 million to film-funding agency

MONTREAL — Quebec Culture Minister Line Beauchamp announced Thursday that the provincial government will be pumping an additional C$10 million ($8.8 million) into the financing of local films.

Move comes after lobbying from Quebec producers for more cash to address what they see as a crisis in the local film industry.

Beauchamp said the added cash will allow provincial film-funding agency Sodec to support five or six additional pics this year, roughly matching the number of films produced in the previous year.

There was a major uproar in the Quebec film biz in June, when federal funder Telefilm Canada turned down a number of high-profile local pics due to a lack of cash. Telefilm received requests for a total of $46 million in handouts for Quebec films but had only $3.5 million to offer.

Pics that couldn’t go into production because of the shortfall include helmer Robert Lepage’s adaptation of his hit play “The Dragons’ Trilogy” and a biopic of notorious Quebec criminal Lucien Rivard to be directed by Charles Biname and star Remy Girard.

Quebec producers first went to Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda looking for financial support, but Oda turned them down. The producers also went to the Quebec government seeking extra money.

Producer Denise Robert (“The Barbarian Invasions”) said Quebec producers are still hoping the federal government will open its wallet, but she is happy Quebec’s government is taking the first step.

“This amount is going to allow five or six films to be made this year,” she said. “And they’ll be able to film even without money from Telefilm. But we are working with a small group of producers to find a long-term solution so we can get out of this crisis. The amount of public money has stayed the same for years and, at the same time, the costs of production have gone up.”

The government had to act quickly, said Veronik Aubry, a rep for Beauchamp.

“It’s emergency aid, so we can shoot now,” Aubry said. “But we’re also looking for new models of financing. Why is it always up to the Quebec taxpayers to finance these films?”

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