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Top 10 Telefilm-funded films in US sales ring up increase of 157%

30 August 2012

Announcement made on the eve of the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival, a major platform for Canadian productions to be seen by American buyers and producers

Montreal, August 30, 2012 – Reflecting the overall increasing traction for Canadian film and talent in the US market, Telefilm Canada reports a 157% increase for its Top 10 US gross sales earners from 2001-2005* to 2006-2010**, or a boost of nearly $20 million. The result is announced on the eve of the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival (September 6 to 16), one of the strongest platforms for Canadian films to be seen by American buyers and producers.

“Our increased success in the US market is driven by the quality and talent of our creative Canadian production teams and films,” said Telefilm’s Executive Director Carolle Brabant. “Digital platforms have increased our ability to reach American audiences, allowing our films to be discovered and enjoyed by an increasing number of viewers. However this digital platform access compliments the fact that a number of our films – such as Cairo Time and Take This Waltz – have enjoyed solid theatrical runs. We are seeing an increasing number of film distributors in the US supporting our films providing a fertile field of reach for Canadian films.”

Influence of the Toronto International Film Festival

The Festival has always been a dedicated promotional platform for Canadian films. In recent years, this has lead to a number of sales south of the border. Recent examples include:

  • Ruba Nadda’s Cairo Time was a hit at TIFF 2009. It was subsequently picked up by IFC Films where the film performed as one of their most successful indie titles. Cairo Time was a major success on multiple platforms, as it was released day & date theatrical and video on demand. Nadda returns to the Festival this year with Inescapable, a TIFF Gala Presentation. 
  • US interest in Sarah Polley was sparked after her first directorial/writer debut in Away From Her, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing: Adapted Screenplay (2008). The film also received an Oscar nod for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. After screening at TIFF 2011 Take This Waltz was picked up by Magnolia Pictures. Magnolia first released it on HDNet Ultra VOD, then into US theatres.
  • Most of the TIFF’s annual Canada’s Top 10 of the past two years have found distribution in the US, including: A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg), Keyhole (Guy Maddin), Hobo with a Shotgun (Jason Eisener), Monsieur Lazhar (Phillipe Falardeau), Starbuck (Ken Scott), Take this Waltz (Sarah Polley), The High Cost of Living (Deborah Chow), Incendies (Denis Villeneuve), Café de Flore (Jean-Marc Vallée) Edwin Boyd (aka Citizen Gangster) (Nathan Morlando), Barney’s Version (Richard J. Lewis), The Trotsky (Jacob Tierney), Up The Yangtze (Yung Chang), Last Train Home (Lixin Fax), Splice (Vincenzo Natali), Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg).


If remakes can be considered the greatest form of flattery, then Canadian films are blushing. Recent examples, include:

  • Ken Scott’s Starbuck was picked up for an American remake by Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Studios while keeping the core Canadian talent of director/writer Ken Scott and producer André Rouleau (Caramel Films), a rare occurrence in the remaking industry. Starbuck was also picked up for remakes by France and India.
  • Richie Mehta’s Amal was optioned by a major US production company. Mehta and his brother Shaun wrote the script for the American remake.

Canadian directors working with Hollywood marquee talent

Canadian directors working on US productions 

  • Ed Gass-Donnelly. Notoriety for Small Town Murder Songs (premiered at TIFF 2010) led to current directorial work on the US production The Last Exorcism 2. Its predecessor went on to gross $68 million USD worldwide. Donnelly also named by Variety as one of the 10 Directors to Watch. 
  • Jeremy Podeswa is noted for his directorial talent in Canadian features Five Senses and Fugitive Pieces and is much in demand in the US – especially for acclaimed TV series The Tudors, The Borgias, Boardwalk Empire, and now The Newsroom and Homeland. 
  • Jean-Marc Vallée (Café de Flore) is helming the US production The Dallas Buyer’s Club staring Hillary Swank and Matthew McConaughey. 
  • Richie Mehta (Amal) was hired as a director by Disney, and continues to receive offers and interest from other US producers. 

US distributors pick up on our debut filmmakers

Recent examples of first-time directors catching the attention of US distributors include:

  • Jason Eisener’s popular genre film Hobo with a Shotgun was picked up by Magnolia Pictures. A successful film for Magnolia, it was distributed utilizing the new distribution model: Super VOD and then into theatres.
  • Andrew Bush’s directorial debut Roller Town is currently available in 100 million US homes with numerous cable, satellite, and telco operators such as AT&T. In 2005, Bush was one of the first Canadians to offer online sketch comedy via YouTube.
  • Anne Émond’s dazzling debut feature Nuit #1 (TIFF Canada First! 2011) was recently released stateside.

Increasing success for Canadian genre filmmaking in the US

  • In 2010, Variety noted our Canadian new wave of horror in an article entitled “Canadian horror hits mini-boom”. And the boom is also apparent in the US. Recent success include: Wrecked (Michael Greenspan), Les Sept Jours du Talion (Daniel Grou), Hobo with a Shotgun (Jason Eisener), Splice (Vincenzo Natali), a film that received the widest US release ever for a Canadian film, and the recent US sale of Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal (Boris Rodriguez).

*2001 marked the inception of Telefilm’s Canada Feature Film Fund

**Due to the extended lifecycle of feature films (theatrical, DVD, VOD, Internet, etc) US gross sales are reported in five-year groups. 

About Telefilm Canada

Telefilm is dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry. Through its various funding and promotion programs, Telefilm supports dynamic companies and creative talent here at home and around the world. Telefilm also administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund. Visit and follow us on Twitter at and Facebook at


Media enquiries:
Douglas Chow, Manager, External Communications, Telefilm Canada
(514) 283-0838, ext. 2225 or 1-800-567-0890