Starlight all-Canadian movie channel pushes CRTC for access

Mar 21, 2013 | Arts

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By Jonathan Zettel

Canadian film may soon have a new home.

Several prominent Canadian film producers including Robert Lantos (Barney’s Version) and Deepa Mehta (Midnight’s Children) have come together to form Starlight, a multi-platform operation that will show only Canadian films.

Starlight is currently asking the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission for access to basic digital cable packages in Canada, so that the channel will be automatically available to cable subscriptions.

“There have been some 3,000 Canadian films made in English in French over the last 60 years. They collectively represent a significant portion of the cultural legacy of this country and our purpose is to make them available and accessible in every home 24-7,” said Robert Lantos in a Starlight promotional video released March 11.

The station is also asking to include a 45 cent-per-month charge on every cable bill, a charge that, once markup happens by a cable provider, will end up being just under a dollar, The Globe and Mail reports.

“As an aspiring Canadian filmmaker, I think it would benefit in creating a wider audience,” second-year Humber film and television production student Ben Irwin said.

A study by the Department of Canadian Heritage in 2012 showed that 90 per cent of Canadians believe it is important for Canadians to have access to Canadian films.

“Canadians don’t necessarily support Canadian film as much as they should; they watch U.S. films more often than not,” Irwin said.

Starlight will show more than 700 Canadian films a year and pump 70 per cent of its profit back into the film industry.

The new station will begin to fund 8 to 12 new films annually to help new filmmakers. The films will then premier on Starlight, according to their website.

The decision by the CRTC is expected in April.