D Films, a Toronto-based boutique distributor and production company known for its work on such Canadian indies as Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant and Rob Stewart’s Sharkwater Extinction, has been placed in privately appointed receivership.
The company, which was launched by industry veterans Jim Sherry and Tony Cianciotta in 2009, was placed into receivership on Aug. 9 by Bank Leumi USA, which alleges it is owed $2.38-million, according to documents filed Monday with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada by Ira Smith Trustee & Receiver Inc. The documents list dozens of other creditors – including Cineplex Inc., prolific producer Robert Lantos’s Serendipity Point Films, The Globe and Mail and other publications – which are listed as being owed approximately $86,000.
The action was first reported by Insolvency Insider, an industry website.
A company spokesman said Sherry resigned as president and chief executive on Aug. 13 and added that “there isn’t actually anyone to comment” on the situation. Cianciotta left D Films amicably in 2010.
D Films – the D stands for distribution – was founded with the mandate to scope out art-house fare and Canadian content, and made something of a splash in 2009 when it acquired the Canadian rights to Creation, a Charles Darwin biopic starring Paul Bettany that attracted moderate controversy ahead of opening the Toronto International Film Festival that September.
“My friends have all asked me why we named it D Films,” Sherry, previously co-president of the now-defunct Maple Pictures, told The Globe and Mail a month after the company’s launch. “We wanted a company title that was very clear about what we aim to do, which is take care of filmmakers, here and abroad, and help their work make it onto screens.”
Since then, D Films has distributed a wide variety of both Canadian films (including Don McKellar’s 2018 adaptation of Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce and the recent sci-fi drama Clara) and foreign acquisitions (this past January’s Keanu Reeves sci-fi film Replicas, the war-journalist drama A Private War). In 2017, D Films expanded into TV and film production.
The action comes on the eve of the 44th edition of TIFF, typically the busiest season for domestic distributors.
“Any loss in that area is a loss for the film scene in this country,” Cameron Bailey, artistic director and co-head of TIFF, told The Globe and Mail this week. “I think there’s been a lot of evolution in the distribution sector in Canada, and when one distributor comes and goes, people have re-formed one company and moved onto others, so you have to have hope that at least the activity will land somewhere else. Lots of things are happening industry-wide, but you absolutely need people and companies who are still able to go out and find the best films, bring them to Canada, get them in theatres and make sure people know about them. You need that more than ever because there’s just so much more choice than there used to be.”
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