After producer Robert Lantos was thwarted earlier this year by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in his plan to promote Canadian film through a mandatory all-Canadian cable channel, he said he was left with “only one option – grassroots.”
That’s why Lantos, along with actor Colm Feore, made a pitch Monday at a packed TIFF Bell Lightbox event for the Canadian television and film industry to get behind Reel Canada, a program aimed at increasing exposure of Canadian cinema to high-school students across the country.
At the event to launch Reel Canada’s ninth season, Lantos and Feore introduced a new fundraising campaign Uniting the Nation Through Film, directed at all film and television sectors with the goal of increasing the program’s reach from the current 40,000 to 100,000 students a year by Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017.
John Galway (Harold Greenberg Fund), who is co-chair of the campaign with Karen Thorne-Stone (Ontario Media Development Corp.), said that a broad range of contributors, from guilds to distributors, producers and individuals, had already contributed $70,000.
Filmmakers Jack Blum and Sharon Corder, who founded Reel Canada in 2005, said the goal is to get the industry contributing 20 per cent of Reel Canada’s operating costs, or $200,000 of the current $1-million, with the rest picked up by private and corporate sponsors.
Blum said that though there were no statistics indicating that students exposed to Reel Canada contributed to the Canadian box office, its surveys showed students were much more positive about Canadian culture after participating in the program.
In addition, Scotiabank’s Jacqueline Ryan announced the bank will contribute $75,000 to Reel Canada, including a $25,000 in-kind contribution toward website development and expansion of the program’s online resources for teachers and students across the country.
Reel Canada, which has an advisory committee including most of Canada’s best-known filmmakers and industry professionals, is supported through various private and public sources, including Telefim Canada and Cineplex Entertainment.