In July, Telefilm Canada introduced a new regime for its festival funding. In essence, eligible Canadian film festivals will be required to increase the number of Canadian films they screen in order to qualify for funding.
The issue came up at the opening press conference of Montreal's World Film Festival (Wff). Afterwards WFF vice-president Danielle Cauchard spoke to Screen International about the implications of the change.
'Almost every country except the US has a policy of maintaining national cinema - there is help at the production level, with marketing. The obsession is getting a greater market share. This is great and you see the results in Quebec, in France, Germany and Italy, the audience has increased.
'But what happens at the same time is the other national cinemas are left out. We used to have Italian films playing in Montreal, a German film, now even French films have a hard time getting distribution in Quebec, with exceptions like La Vie En Rose.
'What happens in most countries is we are becoming bi-cultural - we have the American culture plus our own. It's not polycultural. Having our own culture is great but we should have access to other cultures. And that's the problem we have with (the new regulation).
'Take for example Ben X, the Dutch film that made its world premiere in competition at Montreal last year and went on to win the Grand Prize of the Americas and the audience prize. It sold to 35 countries but (Telefilm's) reaction is ... (she shrugs).
'The Telefilm policy goes in that direction - Canadian cinema and that's it. What if museums were programmed only to have Canadian exhibitions''