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Toronto Business Goes On…Or Does It? (And The Winners Are…)

Toronto Business Goes On...Or Does It? (And The Winners Are...)

Even though the festival is continuing, I had to get home early, because Saturday I am going to (yet another!!) Festival in San Sebastian, Spain. More from there soon!

Three things strike me about TIFF from this vantage point. ATTN: AS OF THIS WRITING THINGS HAVE CHANGED DRASTICALLY, AND I HAVE UPDATED MY COMMENTARY AS A RESULT. See IndieWIRE, Sept. 19 “Flurry of Activity”:

Last night’s sales bring the festival’s current North American deal total to a whopping 18 titles, with a variety of players coming to the table…Compared to last year, this is an impressive result for Toronto. By the time the 2009 festival ended, only a half dozen films or so had been picked up…A lot of sales happened six or eight weeks after the festival [last year] but they were seen here,” Cameron Bailey told indieWIRE just prior to this year’s festival.

There were surprisingly few MANY (!!!) sales made, and the 4 which sold for seven figures (Dirty Girl $3.2m paid by TWC), SUPER (IFC bought from HanWay), Submarine (IFC bought from Protagonist for about $1m plus a P&A commitment) and Beautiful Boy (Anchor Bay acquired from Lightning) were surprising in how high their prices were. What is behind IFC’s suddenly upping the ante after being the busiest and lowest paying buyer in town? Is TWC showing its “new money” to gain lost ground?

What has happened is the money is flowing again and the vets of distribution are going for broke. Everyone will be watching the upcoming indie boxoffice numbers to see whether P&A and internet outlays bring in the ROIs. Very exciting times.


The good old days when “producers reps” were selliing films seem to have passed into days of old. Now when these “big festival films” are “repped”, they are by the big agencies, Paradigm, WME, ICM, CAA, sometimes even in combination because the film is repped by one agency and the filmmaker by another. The indie producer reps like Jonathan Dana, Ronna Wallace, Stephen Raphael, Jeff Dowd were not visible (Jonathan and Stephen were there of course), and I know they are still working with indie films — just (perhaps) not at TIFF. These days both John Sloss and Josh Braun of Submarine are functioning more as sales agents than producer reps, selling off all rights, not just North American rights as producers reps do. It seems as if the beginning meets the end; when you think about it, after all, Bobby Thompson (WMA agent then) created this niche in this business and it has returned full circle to the agencies’ purview. They seem to be filling the gap for films no longer picked up by the now defunct major studio classics division.

The place of indies is now with DIY and Hybrid and with the plethora of small distributors running parallel to the former minimajor speciality distributors. The filmmakers with films which do not go through standard distribution will have to get busy in planning their own strategies for getting the films out to the public. Now is the time! At my one-on-one Meet the Mogul Interview last Saturday with Bob Berney, he clearly pointed out how many new and even unknown indies are showing up in the theatrical circuit. In L.A. and N.Y. there are 5 to 10 new films a week. This is due to a couple of current factors such as DIY efforts to get films on a screen (any screen!!) and the current overbuilt abundance of screens by the theater chains in the U.S. Exhibitors themselves are looking at programming with different eyes. This is worth our looking at in the upcoming period of transition.

If you want to see what the TIFF winners are, continue reading this.

Cadillac People’s Choice Award:
The King’s Speech
Directed by Tom Hooper

Runner-Up The First Grader
directed by Justin Chadwick

Cadillac People’s Choice Award For Documentary:
Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie
Directed by Sturla Gunnarsson

Runner-Up Cadillac People’s Choice Award For Documentary: Nostalgia For The Light
Directed by Patricio Guzmán

Cadillac People’s Choice Award For Midnight Madness:
Stake Land
Directed by Jim Mickle

Runner-Up: Fubar II
Directed by Michael Dowse

City of Toronto and Astral Media’s The Movie Network Award Award For Best Canadian Feature Film:
directed by Denis Villeneuve

SKYY Vodka Award For Best Canadian First Feature Film:
The High Cost of Living
directed by Deborah Chow

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Special Presentations Section:
L’Amour Fou
directed by Pierre Thoretton

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery Section:
Beautiful Boy
directed by Shawn Ku

Award For Best Canadian Short Film:
Les fleurs de l’âge (Little Flowers)
directed by Vincent Biron, Montreal, Canada

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