Netflix has made the first move with their massive Canadian content fund.
The streaming service has announced that they have acquired international distribution rights to French-language film Les Affamés, the winner of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) Best Canadian Feature Film award. The film will be available in Netflix markets around the world on March 2, with the exception of Latin America, Eastern Europe and Canada. In Canada, the film has its own distribution rights holders.
This announcement is the among the first uses of the $500 million fund Netflix pledged towards creating and distributing Canadian content. Later last year the U.S. company unveiled what they called Netflix Canada, a brand new entity that would be focused on championing homegrown content, through shooting and releasing shows and films themselves, buying the rights and distributing films internationally, and holding summits and workshops for creators.
“Les Affamés enraptured audiences in Canada and we’re delighted to bring this unique Québécois voice to other countries around the world,” said Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s film group. “From the U.S. to Japan to France, millions of Netflix members will be able to stream Robin Aubert’s extraordinary thrill ride. This is another exciting example of the investment the company is making in Canadian culture and bringing its stories and artists to the world.”
An additional $25 million was pledged by Netflix in a market-development strategy for French-language industry development opportunities. Les Affamés is shot in French and will be made available around the world with dubs and subtitles, and the money used to distribute the film will be coming from the $500 million fund and not the $25 million.
Les Affamés—a horror movie about a small town in upstate Quebec—was written and directed by Robin Aubert, who also made the films Crying Out and Saint Martyrs of the Damned. He is an award-winning director and actor and a profound influence in the Québécois film industry.
“I am so excited that viewers around the world will get the chance to watch Les Affamés,” said Aubert. “I’m also proud for the Netflix audience to experience its thrills and chills in its original Québécois version, my mother tongue, which is so rich and colorful, full of history and mystery, something that fully characterizes my universe as a filmmaker.”
This move by Netflix is a smart one as it capitalizes on a few criticisms that have been lobbed their way. Firstly, it is an award-winning film made entirely in Canada, and only Netflix has the kind of power to bring that voice to the far reaches of the globe. Secondly, it is shot entirely in French, so the critics who believed Francophone content would take a backseat to English work will have to bite their tongues, at least for now.
The $500 million fund Netflix Canadian content fund will be distributed and spent over the next five years. It will include content made entirely in Canada like A Series of Unfortunate Events, as well as co-productions with local partners in Canada, like Anne and Alias Grace.