Telefilm Canada will cut $1.7 million from its film-funding programs in 2012 in an effort to make up a cost savings of $2.7 million imposed in the federal budget.
That cut includes $700,000 designated towards development financing for films and $500,000 from a fund that helps train emerging filmmakers. The agency will also cut by half its $1 million production fund for theatrical documentaries.
Telefilm has also proposed cutting 16 jobs in an effort to save $1 million in administration costs, the film body announced Wednesday in a press statement.
The $2.7 million cut is for 2012 alone. The agency, which supports Canadian film production, must slash a total of $10.6 million by 2014 (including cutting $6 million next year) as part of the federal government's austerity measures. The total amounts to a 10 per cent reduction in Telefilm's budget over three years.
The theatrical documentary program at Telefilm, partly supported by Rogers, has been a major success. It has supported documentaries that have become award-winners and festival favourites, such as Reel Injun (Reel Indian), Last Train Home, Le Coeur d'Auschwitz, La nuit, elles dansent and Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould.
Telefilm says it will enter discussions with potential partners in hopes of restoring the money it must cut from the program this year.
The cuts are already drawing criticism from ACTRA, the union representing Canadian actors.
"We are disappointed that the government is cutting investments that create Canadian content and green jobs. Telefilm, like the CBC and NFB, triggers production and is a critical piece to helping films get financed," said Ferne Downey, ACTRA national president, in an e-mail statement to CBC.
"We’re especially discouraged to see cuts to development and theatrical documentaries. These are areas that are chronically underfunded. If Telefilm isn’t putting in seed money upfront, we’re going to have diminished products across the board, in the case of theatrical docs, it’s likely we won’t have them at all," she continued.