Telefilm Canada says it has more than doubled its investment in proposed film projects with $11.65 million dedicated to helping the battered industry rebound from the pandemic.
A spokeswoman says the federal agency's Development Program is supporting 607 projects in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, up from 261 the previous year when Telefilm doled out $5.48 million.
The increased funds include $2.5 million for 143 projects written and produced by filmmakers who are Black and people of colour. Those dollars are the first to flow from Telefilm's new Development Stream for Racialized Persons.
Telefilm says that stream — meant to support creators from marginalized communities — was originally budgeted to release $500,000 for the fiscal year.
But executive director Christa Dickenson says there was a "high submission of projects" and a clear need for added help.
Telefilm says it backed all projects that qualified for funding this year because of the pandemic's impacts on the film industry.
But it said racialized filmmakers in particular face added barriers.
"Support in development is a key step in helping projects gain momentum, so an increased level of funding this year will assist many racialized filmmakers at all career levels further their films," Dickenson said Tuesday in a release.
The Development Stream for Racialized Persons invited its first round of submissions last fall as one of several initiatives in Telefilm's Equity and Representation Action Plan to create a more inclusive industry.
The action plan was announced last summer in the wake of criticism from some in the Canadian screen world who said Telefilm was dragging its heels on promises to promote onscreen diversity.
Of the 143 projects that qualified for funding under the stream, about 36 per cent had Black screenwriters and producers, and roughly 63 per cent were written and produced by people of colour.
A separate funding stream for Indigenous filmmakers gave out $645,000 and supported 36 projects for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. That’s up from the $198,000 allocated to 11 projects the previous year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2021.
The Canadian Press