'There is a need for what we are doing to develop the industry,'

Nunavut Film changes status to attract federal funds


Nunavut Film's outgoing president hopes 2007 will go down as the year the agency moved from a leaderless, money-losing organization to a media force that stokes home-grown talent and entices foreign productions.

"It has been a year of transition," said Ike Haulli at Nunavut Film's Jan. 17 annual general meeting in Iqaluit.

That transition saw the agency hire a new chief executive, George Ritter, last fall, work with the territorial department of economic development and transportation on a new film policy, and oversee the conversion of Nunavut Film from a society to a non-profit development corporation.

That change is to take place April 1. Outgoing treasurer Bob Long said while it's largely a formal change, it will open up new sources of federal funding that are available to corporations, but not societies.

Also expected this year is a new film policy from the Government of Nunavut, which Ritter hopes will include a labour rebate for southern and foreign producers. Ritter said that will help the territory become a shooting location for foreign productions, which brings investment and jobs into Nunavut.

Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn't offer such a rebate to foreign producers. Several provinces just increased their rebates, and 23 U.S. states also have such programs, in a bid to lure job-creating film productions.

The board of directors also approved a change that makes board members ineligible for production funding from Nunavut Film. That's part of the nationwide fall-out from a flap at the Canadian Television Fund last year, where producers sitting on the CTF's board were getting money for their projects.

Ritter said that since then, provincial and territorial film agencies have moved to exclude producers from their boards to shed the appearance of conflict of interest.

"In some cases, they didn't have any industry people at all on the board," he said.

One development loan from Nunavut Film went to a board member last year – $10,000 to member-at-large Myna Ishulutak for a film called Tajarniit.

Nunavut Film received requests for nearly $900,000 in funding and labour rebates from Nunavut producers last year despite having only $475,000 available for filmmakers.

"That shows there is a need for what we are doing to develop the industry," Haulli said.

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