Is it a good idea for a government to become a film distributor? All around the world, many governments at the national and local levels sponsor the arts by making grants and other funds available, but off hand, I can't think of any that have taken control of a film distribution company. Yet that's what the government in Quebec, Canada has done, according to The Canadian Press.

"The Societe generale de financement du Quebec has invested $100 million in Alliance Films Inc.," the article says. That price bought them the shares being sold by Edgestone Capital Partners, based in Toronto, and gives them the majority (51%) of the voting shares. (The press release is available on the government's site.) A government spokeswoman claims that it's all part of their effort to prop up the local film industry, which has been on the decline lately. In recent times, the government has also partnered with Lionsgate and Dark Castle, one of legendary producer Joel Silver's production companies. As a result, the producer's Whiteout, starring Kate Beckinsale, was filmed largely in Quebec.

On the face of it, this sounds like a sweet deal to boost local productions and benefit the region. The government anticipates that 8,200 "full-time-equivalent direct and indirect jobs representing $325 million in wages" will be created by their investments.

But I can't help remembering conversations I had several years ago with two different independent Canadian filmmakers who both complained privately about the National Film Board of Canada and the difficulty they had in securing financial assistance because their projects were "different ... not what they wanted to support." Can a government control a film distribution company and not exert influence over what type of movies will receive distribution?
categories Movies, Cinematical