The Toronto Film Festival, which wrapped Sunday, was the scene of more robust sales activity this year.
For hometown 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 the only fest prize she needed.
Veninger, a veteran actor, producer and graduate of the Canadian Film Center, negotiated the deal on behalf of her Punk Films. She said positive reviews from local critics before pic’s Wednesday bow 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 foreign rights.
Mid-size Canadian distrib Mongrel, which has a long-standing output deal with Sony Pictures Classics, entered the fest with opening gala “Score: A Hockey Musical” and several other titles. By the end, it had acquired docus “Precious Life,” and “L’Amour fou” plus “Film Socialisme,” “Black Venus” and “Brownian Movement” for Canada.
Mongrel president Hussain Amarshi said he expected to acquire five more fest titles in the next two weeks.
Major Canuck distribs eOne and Alliance came to 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 also had a sizeable number of high-profile, world preem titles 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 separating 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 docu “I’m Still Here” just before the fest, giving it a three-pic slate. The company acquired Canadian rights in all media to “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.