SAN SEBASTIAN – “Octavio is Dead,” “American Music” and “X Quiniento” are among projects being brought to the San Sebastian Festival by an 11-strong delegation of Canadian producers.
Led by Telefilm Canada and the Festival, the initiative coincides with a particularly strong year for Canada at San Sebastian, seen in a competition berth for Maxime Giroud’s UDI-sold “Felix & Meira,” a U.S. pick-up for Oscilloscope last week. It also marks a sustained push by Telefilm into supporting a larger presence of Canadian producers at key fests in the Spanish-speaking world.
“We are always trying to respond to the needs of the Canadian industry,” said Carolle Brabant, Telefilm exec director.
“More and more Canadian producers are seeing the Spanish-speaking countries as a real new opportunity.”
Taking in Alejandro Amenabar’s “Regression,” the Filmax-produced “The Returned,” Claudia Vargas Llosa’s “Aloft” and Chilean Cristian Jimenez’s San Sebastian competition player “Voice Over,” the number of Canadian co-productions with Latin America and Spain is growing, Brabant added.
Mexico’s Los Cabos Festival already works a three-way U.S.-Mexico-Canada axis; San Sebastian offers a mass of producers from over Latin America, thanks to 40 titles in sections, Films in Progress and the Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum.
A Canada/Mexico fantasy father-daughter tale, “Octavio” is written-directed by actress-turned-helmer Sook Yin Lee, (“Shortbus”) and stars Alison Pill (Midnight in Paris) and Tenoch Huerta (“Sin nombre”). The Film Farm, which has produced films by Atom Egoyan, Brian De Palma and Sarah Polley, co-produces with Matthias Ehrenberg’s Rio Negro in Mexico.
Intertwining three tales of transformation, and set up at Yanick Letourneau’s Peripheria Productions, “X Quinientos” – which will be pitched at San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum – has already tied down Latin American partners in Mexico’s Machete Producciones and Colombia’s Septima. Colombian Juan Andres Arango (“La Playa”) co-directs.
A blackly comic story set in a dystopian near future, American Music is written-helmed by Jacob Tierney whose “Preggoland,” world premiered at Toronto to an upbeat reception.
Producers present at San Sebastian, where they will attend fest’s Co-production Forum, range from the up-and-coming to established, laurelled filmmakers.
“Cobarde,” from Boris Rodriguez, is produced by Anne-Marie Gelinas at EMA Films, whose credits include Berlin Silver Bear-winner “Rebelle”; Jonathan Sobal’s “Made In Italy,” is produced by vet Phyllis Laing at Buffalo Gal Pictures, who partnered on “Aloft”; “Brad, le genie de la potiche” is from pre-eminent toon pic producer Productions 10 Ave (“The Legend of Sarila”).
There’s also a bigger picture. Canada has always focused on co-production as a huge opportunity, said Michael Hennessy, president & CEO of the Canadian Media Production Assn. (CMPA).
Historically, as a bi-lingual country, its major co-production partners have been the U.K. and France, then Germany and Italy,
But, he said, “It’s harder and harder to get stable audiences from the kind of audiences Canadian producers want just from trying to finance and produce in their home market.”
He added: “That takes you to the next step way beyond the obvious places that we’ve always gravitated to because of language, for other bigger opportunities. And that really takes us quickly to Latin America and Spain.”
Also at San Sebastian, Bill Marx at Vortex Pictures will present family-targeting “Red Racer”; Katherine Jerkovic’s loosely autobiographical feature debut, “Roads In February,” about a girl exploring her immigrant roots, is set up at 1976, the Canadian producer on “Voice Over.”
Set up at Kyle Irving’s Eagle Vision, written by Rebecca Gibson and to be directed by Shelagh Carter (“Passionflower), suspense horror film “Skinner” turns on a detective who works with child victims of Internet exploitation who begins to suspect abuse in her own family.
At the Ottawa-based Quiet Revolutions, Michael Dobbin will present historical fantasy “Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler.”
Optioned by Barrie Dunn at Trailer Park Productions, “The Cuban Five” is a true story based on the book, “What Lies Across The Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five”, by award-winning Canadian journalist and author, Stephen Kimber. It turns on the imprisonment of five Cuban intelligence officers that, the book reveals, whose work helped prevent an on-flight explosion that would have killed hundreds of beach-bound tourists.
Canada can bring to the table highly talented co-producers, a long expertise in co-production –Canada has co-pro treaties and agreements with 54 partners in all regions of the world – and access via a Canadian partner to federal and provincial tax incentives, Brabant said.
Carole Vivier, CEO & Film Commissioner, Manitoba Film & Music, which offers 60% tax breaks, will be attending San Sebastian. Telefilm Canada runs its own TV/film financung fund.
Hennessy added: “I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to co-production and funding mechanisms, in Canada we have one of the more attractive systems in the world.”