Netflix to partner with TIFF to develop Canadian filmmaking talent

Netflix has signed a three-year deal to support the Toronto International Film Festival’s Canadian film-industry programs which help foster local filmmaking talent, with a focus on creators from under-represented communities, including women and members of Indigenous communities.

The streaming giant will direct the funds to TIFF’s Talent Accelerator program, which subsidizes access to the festival’s industry programming and events and also to the fest’s Filmmaker Lab — a four-day annual workshop for emerging filmmakers. As well, there are plans for three events focused on professional development.

“New voices are important to the future of film, and we share TIFF’s confidence in the emerging talent coming out of Canada,” said Scott Stuber, Netflix’s head of film, in a release. “This investment will help TIFF increase representation in the industry, and expand opportunities for these filmmakers that will allow them to deepen their craft and advance their projects.”

The Netflix investment reportedly comes from a $ 25-million fund created as part of a deal with the Canadian government in 2017. That was also when Netflix also committed to spending $ 500 million here on film and television productions over five years, which they announced they had fulfilled in September 2019, three years ahead of schedule. The streaming company has shot shows including “The Umbrella Academy,” “Another Life” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” in Canada and has created a large production hub in Toronto.

Despite the investment, critics note that the streamer does not have to meet the financial commitments and content guidelines that and Canadian rival media companies must adhere to.

The deal is one more project in which TIFF works with and embraces Netflix — a habit which has raised the ire of other festivals around the world including Cannes, which refuses to allow Netflix movies in the official competition, due to tensions between the streaming company and the traditional film industry. TIFF has welcomed the company’s films at the festival.

Last year’s TIFF exhibited the broader tension between streaming companies and the industry, as Cineplex — which owns the Scotiabank Theatre, one of TIFF’s main venues — refused to exhibit films created by streaming companies in its cinemas.

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Raju Mudhar

Raju Mudhar is a Toronto-based reporter covering popular culture at the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @rajumudhar


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