Credit at heart of ‘Emotional’ wringer

Lewis, Barzman go to court over writing credit

TORONTO — You’d think that having your work tapped as the closing-night film at the Toronto Film Festival would be an uplifting experience. But Canadian scribe Jefferson Lewis and director Paolo Barzman are going through an “Emotional” wringer.

Yes, their film “Emotional Arithmetic” is heavy stuff — Susan Sarandon, Christopher Plummer, Gabriel Byrne, Roy Dupuis and Max von Sydow revisit the damage done by the Holocaust four decades later — but it’s the behind-the-scenes wrangling over script credit that has become wrenching.

Arbitrators at the Writers Guild of Canada ruled in January that Lewis was to receive sole credit for the screenplay, based on the novel by Matt Cohen. But then Barzman took Lewis to the Quebec Superior Court in an effort to have the case heard by a judge. That suit was dismissed July 19 for jurisdictional reasons, but Barzman continues to fight.

“The WGC’s decision, as well as Mr. Lewis’ affirmation that he is sole writer, simply do not reflect the truth of what happened,” Barzman said in an email, noting that he plans to appeal and that, “If I have to, I will then pursue in Ontario.”

Lewis, for his part, hopes his credit win doesn’t turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

“I hope that I can somehow get an invitation to the screening and the gala, since I’d like to be there,” he says.

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