Canadian producers are riding a surge of industry buzz and critical kudos at the European Film Market with hopes that a slate of pics from seasoned Canuck helmers and newcomers will keep the momentum going in 2012.
At the forefront is Telefilm Canada, which brings its sixth edition of Perspective Canada to the mart. The federally operated film funder will showcase a selection of features for the market, including David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” and Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz.”
“We’re in a very positive wave of cinema right now with the successes we’ve had internationally,” said Sheila de la Varende, director of industry promotion at Telefilm. “That creates recognition and anticipation in the marketplace for Canadian films.”
Over the past year, Canuck-funded productions, such as “Incendies” and “Monsieur Lazhar,” have been a hit on the festival circuit and with international orgs like the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — both films had been nommed for the foreign-language film Oscar.
Telefilm hopes that will bode well for interest in other pics, and has beefed up this year’s slate at Berlin. Perspective Canada will showcase nearly double the number of titles it has unspooled in recent years — 19 in total — which makes 2012 its biggest lineup yet.
Telefilm’s initiative has also drawn major interest from Canadian filmmakers this year, de la Varende said. Forty domestic films applied to be part of the series for 2012.
For the films that made the cut, Telefilm has lined up plenty of market fanfare. All the features are backed by a promotional campaign at Berlin that’s funded entirely by Telefilm, and each title is screened in the market twice at a discounted rate for the film’s rights holder.
Among the crop in the spotlight this year is the acclaimed “Cafe de flore” from Jean-Marc Vallee (“C.R.A.Z.Y.”), and gritty drama “Trash” helmed by Benoit Pilon (“The Necessities of Life”). Other buzz titles include Xavier Dolan’s “Laurence Anyway”; Deepa Mehta’s “Midnight’s Children” (based on the Salman Rushdie novel); and male stripper comedy “Jackhammer,” from actor-turned-director Michael Hanus.
Canadian distributor Entertainment One, which has a presence in the Telefilm showcase, is also bringing a raft of pics to the market, including Guy Maddin’s “Keyhole” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which is fresh off its Sundance win.
Charlotte Mickie, executive vice president of international distribution at eOne, said a key to Berlin’s market is the strong attendance of buyers.
“You’ve got this magical combination of extremely good screening rooms and buyer interest,” she said.
Outside of the market, other Canadian films are vying for European distribution attention at Berlin.
In competition is “Rebelle,” the story of a young woman who is abducted by rebels and trained to be a soldier. The film, from helmer Kim Nguyen, has generated buzz as only the second fiction film to be lensed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Also screening at Berlin is voguing musical “Leave It on the Floor” from Toronto-born director Sheldon Larry, and Canadian-U.S. co-production “Francine” starring Melissa Leo as a woman trying to readjust to society after serving a prison sentence.