The Canadian government has unveiled its new Feature Film Policy under which it will double its investment in feature films to $67m (C$100m) a year.

The policy also includes promises to support production from "script to screen" and to boost lacklustre box office receipts for indigenous films.

"This policy will offer us more homegrown choices in local theatres," heritage minister Sheila Copps told the crowd at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where the long-awaited announcement was delivered.

As part of the new policy, the Heritage Ministry will invest an additional $10m (C$15m) in the next few months, while the new $67m (C$100m) Canada Feature Film Fund will kick in April 2001. To be administered by current federal funder Telefilm Canada, the annual investment breaks down as follows:

  • Approximately $57m (C$85m) - a $27m (C$40m) jump from current policy - will go to the Project Development, Production and Marketing Assistance Program, in order to increase the number of Canadian films shown at theatres and pump up marketing budgets.
  • $3.3m (C$5m) is earmarked for the Complementary Activities Program, which encourages the viewing of Canadian films through support of film festivals and awards programs.
  • $1.9m (C$2.9m) will go to professional development for emerging filmmakers.
  • A new investment of $1.5m (C$2.3m) is slated for the Screenwriting Assistance Program, designed to create, nurture and retain a pool of experienced screenwriters.
  • The remaining funds will go to support an Independent Film and Video Fund, the preservation and dissemination of indigenous features and funding for low-budget, director-driven projects.

    One key goal of the new Feature Film Policy is to capture 5% of the domestic box office by 2006. In 1999, Canadian films earned only 2.1% - or $9.2m (C$13.8m) - of box office receipts, much lower than comparable filmmaking countries, such as Japan (37%), France (30%), Italy (14%) and Spain (14%). The policy also aims to increase audiences for Canadian features abroad.

    To meet these goals, the new initiative promises to foster an increase in average production budgets to at least $3.3m (C$5m) - the current average is approximately $1.7m (C$2.5) - and to promote an increase in average marketing budgets from about C$150,000 to at least C$500,000 for publicly funded films.