‘Modra’ gets nabbed, helmer gets happy

Distribution is a delight for Toronto's Ingrid Veninger

For Toronto filmmaker Ingrid Veninger, securing domestic distribution from Mongrel Media for her solo directing debut “Modra,” a low-budget coming-of-ager set in Slovakia, was all the prize she needed as the Toronto Film Festival came to a close on Sunday.

Veninger, a veteran actor, producer and grad of the Canadian Film Center, negotiated the deal on behalf of her Punk Films. She said on Friday that positive reviews from local critics before pic’s Sept. 15 preem helped fill the industry screening.

“Having Mongrel involved will really help the next phase of the film,” said Veninger, who will aim for high-profile U.S. fests as she goes about selling U.S. and foreign rights.

Mid-size Canadian distrib Mongrel, which has a long-standing output deal with Sony Pictures Classics, entered the festival with opening gala “Score: A Hockey Musical” and several other titles. By the end, company had acquired docus “Precious Life,” “L’Amour fou,” “Film Socialisme,” “Black Venus” and “Nanouk Leopold” for Canada, reflecting this year’s more robust sales activity.

Mongrel president Hussain Amarshi said he expected to acquire another five festival titles within the next two weeks.

While major Canuck distribs eOne and Alliance have yet to make official acquisition announcements, both came into the fest with large slates of films, including some of the domestic award winners: best Canadian feature “Incendies” (eOne), docu aud fave “Force of Nature” (eOne) and Midnight Madness aud prize runner-up “Fubar II” (Alliance).

Both distribs had a sizeable number of high-profile, world preeming titles that arrived looking for a U.S. sale (Alliance with “Insidious,” eOne with “Potiche” et al), continuing and expanding a trend that has emerged the past few years of producers severing U.S. and Canadian rights.

Mid-size player Maple Pictures, whose smaller slate included “Everything Must Go,” acquired Canadian rights to Guillaume Canet’s “Little White Lies” on Friday.

Growing boutique distrib D Films, which opened shop a year ago, nabbed controversial docu “I’m Still Here” just before the fest, giving it a three-pic slate. The company acquired Canadian rights in all media to Michelangelo Frammartin’s “Le Quatro Volte” on Sunday.

“For a new company like us, the festival is an opportunity to build up or start new relationships, because almost everyone is here,” said D Films’ Tony Cianciotta. “It helps us establish the kind of company we’re going to be in the future.”

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