Quebec’s Elephant Hits 500,000 Buys For Heritage Films

The Elephant project allows international access to nearly 225 restored Quebecois classics

Backed by Montreal-based media giant Quebecor, Elephant: The Memory of Quebec Cinema, a large scale, non-profit project to restore, digitize and make available Quebec’s cinematic heritage, has seen half a million online buys since its launch in November 2008.

A recuperation, audience access and promotion initiaitive, Elephant has digitized nearly 225 Quebecois pics to date; a further 800 films remain to be eventually restored.

Quebec classics can be viewed 24 hours a day, seven days a week on Quebecois cabler Videotron’s TV platform Illico and via iTunes in Canada, the U.S., France and other French-speaking countries in Europe and African.

Clients pay $1.76 per pic in standard format and $2.65 in HD.

A philanthropic initiative, fully funded by Quebecor, owned by Pierre Karl Peladeau, from which it derives no financial benefit, Elephant suggest an alternative business model for the classic film business that mixes private funding and market-driven economics.

“Distributors retain 10% of revenues from people who buy the film to cover a portion of operating costs, the rest goes to the Quebec rights holders and creators,” producer Marie-Jose Raymond, Elephant co-director, said at the Lumière Festival’s Classic Film Market.

Elephant’s work is being internationally recognized. Francis Mankiewicz’s “Les bons debarras” (Good Riddance), a 1979 drama considered a flagship film of both Quebecois and Canadian cinema, which was digitally restored in 2013 by Elephant, screened Oct. 14 in the Splendors of Restoration section at Lyon’s 6th Lumiere Festival.

Supervised by Elephant co-directors Claude Fournier and Raymond, performed by Filmoption International and Technicolor, the digitization and restoration of the original 35 mm color negative of “Good Riddance” was scanned in 4K using Arriscan technology.

In May, the Cannes Festival invited Elephant to screen a restored copy of Jean-Claude Lauzon’s 1992 young Montrealer tale “Léolo” as part of its Cannes Classics section.

Led by the response received at Cannes, the Elephant execs determined to create Elephant ClassicQ, the first Canadian festival devoted to restored and digitized movies from the world’s film heritage.

A further example of Elephant’s expanding horizons, Elephant ClassiQ’s first edition kicked off Oct. 10 as part of Montreal’s 43th Festival du Nouveau Cinema.

“We were very inspired by Cannes Classics’ know-how,” said Marie-Jose Raymond. “Naturally, Elephant will maintain its connection with Cannes Classics and develop relationships with other similar festivals around the world.”

The Elephant website (www.elephant.canoe.ca), the largest existing database and information bank on more than 60 years of Quebecois cinema history, marks another powerful platform for its dissemination and promotion, as does iTunes, whose partnership with Elephant bowed November of last year.

John Hopewell contributed to this article


Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Gael Garcia Bernal on the Power,

    Gael Garcia Bernal on the Power, Responsibility of Cinema to ‘Provoke’

    Gael García Bernal said acting for the likes of Oscar winners Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón helped groom him for the director’s chair and praised cinema as “the only medium” that allows artists to “explore the gray areas” in unparalleled ways. “The world is so full of certainties now, and cinema is the one that [...]

  • Gareth Jones

    Samuel Goldwyn Films Takes North American Rights to Berlin Competition Title 'Mr Jones'

    Samuel Goldwyn Films has taken North American rights on Agnieska Holland’s “Mr. Jones,” it announced Thursday. The period thriller debuted in competition at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Set on the eve of the Second World War, “Mr. Jones” stars James Norton as the eponymous character, an ambitious young journalist who travels to Moscow [...]

  • Live Action Mulan

    China Uses Disney's 'Mulan' to Attack Hong Kong Protests

    Although Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to stop what they say is a Chinese state-backed misinformation campaign about the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, similar content from suspicious accounts continues to proliferate widely, some of it co-opting Disney‘s new “Mulan“ to try to discredit the demonstrators. At the same time, China‘s government-controlled media are [...]


    San Sebastian Adds Alice Winocour, Malgorzata Szumowska, Sarah Gavron to Main Comp

    The Darren Aronofsky-produced Brazilian title “Pacified,” by American director Paxton Winters, Alice Winocour’s French-German astronaut drama “Proxima” and Polish film director Małgorzata Szumowska’s religious thriller “The Other Lamb” are among the six final competition selections for September’s 67th San Sebastian Film Festival. Also vying for San Sebastian’s Golden Shell will be U.K. drama “Rocks,” from [...]

  • Jamile Wenske

    Jamila Wenske Leaves One Two Films to Head Achtung Panda! in Berlin

    German producer Jamila Wenske has left One Two Films to head Achtung Panda!, a Berlin-based film production company. Wenske succeeds former managing director Helge Albers, who left Achtung Panda! to become the new CEO of regional funder Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein. Wenske partnered with Sol Bondy and Christoph Lange to launch One Two Films in 2010. [...]

  • Tuva-Novotny

    Tuva Novotny Questions Monogamy in 'Diorama' Pic (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Actress-turned-helmer Tuva Novotny thrives on big challenges. Her feature debut “Blindspot,” Norway’s entry for the 2019 Nordic Council Prize, was shot in real-time in one take and illuminates mental health issues. Her sophomore mainstream Swedish pic “Britt Marie Was Here” –slated for a Sept. 20 U.S. release via Cohen Media Group –  [...]

  • Seizure

    Writer Megan Gallagher On Her Viaplay Supernatural Nordic-Noir 'Seizure'

    With outposts in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo, Miso Film has become one of the most influential film and TV outfits in Scandinavia. On August 19, the company’s Norwegian arm lifted the curtain on its series venture, the supernatural police drama “Seizure” by premiering the show’s first two episodes at the Haugesund Film Festival ahead of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content