At least three projects to be chosen for development

TORONTO

The Whistler Film Festival has announced the 12 projects that will participate in its inaugural China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition, a pitch event aimed at introducing experienced writer-producer teams to Chinese studios with up to $15 million up for grabs.

The average budget of the participating projects is around $5 million, and a minimum of three projects will be chosen for development in the first year. Whistler is not involved in any deal-making, its role confined to facilitating the competish and related events.

Chinese production execs at the pitch table will include Wuxi Studios’ Lifeng Wang (who also represents Xing Xing), Beijing Hairun Pictures’ producer and director of international cooperation Victoria Hon, and Galloping Horse vice-chair and chair of Digital Domain Ivy Zhong.

Lionsgate Intl. prexy Helen Lee Kim, Arclight Films’ head of Easternlight Ying Ye and Alliance Films senior veep Mark Sloan will also serve on the competish judging panel.

“China offers a new source of production financing and distribution opportunities for Canadian filmmakers. However, up until now, it’s been a difficult market for Canadians to penetrate,” said Whistler managing director Jane Milner in a statement. “By leveraging our efforts and the trust we have built, Canadian writer/producer teams can benefit from WFF’s formal introduction to Chinese production houses looking for experienced storytellers.”

“Developing the Chinese market is a key component of our corporate strategy to build audiences for Canadian productions and to stimulate private financing,” added Sheila de la Varende, director of industry promotion for Telefilm Canada, a founding partner of the initiative. “We are delighted to see such a high interest from our producers and writers from coast to coast.”

Selected from 109 applicants, the Gateway projects are: “Blush,” writer Richard Bell, producer Elizabeth Yake; “Butterfly Tale,” writer Heidi Foss, producer Marie-Claude Beauchamp; “Delicious,” writer Jennifer Scherwin, producers Christopher Zimmer and Bill Fleming; “Disappeared,” writer Pascal Boutroy, producer Deborah Carlson and Lia Jarvis; “Frank,” writer Patrick Tarr, producer Nicolas D. Tabarrok; “Imposter,” writer Lorenzo Orzari, producer Jean-Pierre Morin; “Pop Goes the Weasel,” writer Norman Snider, producer Chris Nanos; “Rock Bottom,” writers Wendy Ord and Glen Samuel, producers John Bain and Kathy Avrich-Johnson; “Space Race,” writer Yung Chang, producer Bob Moore; “Red Serge Duty,” writer Sandy Yates, producers Henry Damen and Ian Smith; “The Eddie Zhao Story,” writer Guy Bennett, producer Raymond Massey; and “The Real Estate,” writers and producers Robert Budreau and Tasso Lakas.

Magus Entertainment prexy Peter Wetherell and Ilustrato Pictures producer Peter Bien will moderate the competish, while Canadian Media Producers Association prexy and CEO Michael Hennessy will deliver the keynote luncheon address. A Gateway industry pass or observer ticket is required to attend.

The festival runs Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 in Whistler, British Columbia.

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