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In today’s film news roundup, Canada’s largest LGBTQ film festival gets postponed, the commercial industry’s health plan addresses the coronavirus pandemic and Margaret Qualley’s “A Head Full of Ghosts” finds a home.

FILM FESTIVAL

Inside Out, Canada’s largest LGBTQ film festival, has postponed this year’s 30th anniversary edition to Oct. 1-11 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The festival had been scheduled for May 21-31 in Toronto. Inside Out said Wednesday that it would present several key initiatives in an online format, including its LGBTQ international feature film financing forum, its annual short film pitch competition, the launch of the previously announced content platform for youth and an online sneak peek of the festival’s 30th anniversary archival exhibit.

“Inside Out is committed to connecting filmmakers, industry, and communities year-round, and will be utilizing all available methods to do so during this unprecedented time,” the organization said. “All tickets and packages that have been previously purchased for this year’s festival will remain valid for the new October dates.”

Inside Out presents the 11-day Toronto LGBT Film Festival (Toronto’s third-largest festival after TIFF and Hot Docs), a four-day festival in Ottawa, a year-round screening and event series at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and professional development initiatives, including the world’s only LGBTQ Feature Film Financing Forum.

HEALTH BENEFITS

The Producers’ Health Benefits Plan, which administers benefits to employers, staff and freelancers in the commercials production industry, has taken a series of actions addressing the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan announced Wednesday it will ensure that covered freelance employees are not at risk of losing their health benefits during the crisis; allow employers the option to temporarily insure laid off employees; and offer discounted premiums to those who may lose employer-paid coverage. PHBP covers approximately 4,000 workers and their families, with over 200 participating employers.

“PHBP’s primary reason for being is the health and welfare of the commercial industry’s freelancers and staff, and the production and post companies that employ them,” said Sean Cooley, executive director. “We’ve taken measures today to ensure our freelance population does not lose coverage due to the sudden halt of production, as well as offering financial relief by temporarily waiving all monthly fees such as dependent coverage costs.”

The plan is also discounting monthly COBRA premiums, the self-paid continuation coverage offered to employees no longer covered on an employer’s plan. All qualification periods for freelancers will be extended three months. PHBP will allow any furloughed or laid off covered staff employee to remain on their employer’s staff coverage (so long as the employer continues premium payments) through May 31. PHBP will allow any currently covered full-time employee whose hours are reduced to part-time status with the same employer to remain on their employer’s staff coverage for April, May and June.

ACQUISITION 

STXfilms has bought rights to Scott Cooper’s upcoming horror movie “A Head Full of Ghosts,” with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” actor Margaret Qualley in the lead role.

STX will distribute in the U.S. and U.K. and collaborate with output partners in Latin America (Sun), Canada (Elevation) and Benelux. “A Head Full of Ghosts” is backed by Cross Creek, Team Downey and The Allegiance Theater. CAA Media Finance represented U.S. rights. Mad River launched foreign sales at the European Film Market in Berlin last month.

“A Head Full of Ghosts” is adapted from Paul Tremblay’s 2015 horror novel about a 23-year-old woman recalling how her older sister had become unhinged 15 years earlier, veering between schizophrenia and demonic possession. Producers are Daniel Dubiecki and Lara Alameddine of the Allegiance Theater, Susan Downey of Team Downey, Tyler Thompson of Cross Creek, Cooper and David Gambino. Robert Downey Jr. is executive producing.

Qualley’s credits include “Fosse/Verdon” and “My Salinger Year,” which opened Berlin. Cooper most recently directed “Antlers,” starring Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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