Canadian film and TV producers including Sarah Polley descended on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill on Thursday to plead with senators to amend a controversial bill that producers believe amounts to censorship.
Bill C-10, which has already been approved by all three parties in the House of Commons and is now in front of the Senate, would allow the heritage minister to withdraw federal tax credits from a film or TV production if bureaucrats decide it is “contrary to public policy” because of gratuitous sex and/or violence.
Tax credits are one of the key financing motors in the Great White North.
The producers argue that the law already prohibits the production of films with extreme violence or sexuality.
“They want to create new guidelines, and that’s creating a lot of uncertainty in the financial community. We’re trying to bring some clarity to it,” said Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. CEO Guy Mayson.
The government currently promises producers tax credits before shooting, and the producers use those promised credits to borrow from the banks.
But banks may not lend money if they fear that tax credits will be taken back by the government, possibly even after the shoot wraps.
The producers claim that films made by Canada’s best-known helmers — including David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan — could well suffer such a fate.
Heritage Minister Josee Verner recently said she would consider delaying the legislation for a year to provide time to consult with the film and TV industry.
But her government remains convinced there is a need for more stringent rules.