News in Brief

Canadian fund grants Cdn$16.5 million to doc makers; Bowling for Columbine passes US$50 million ticket sales mark; Artisan Entertainment picks up Step into Liquid for theatrical release
May 29, 2003

The Canadian Television Fund, a public/private funding body, has announced it is providing Cdn$16.5 million (US$12 million) in grants through its license fee program to 120 documentaries this spring. Managers of the much-sought-after money (see RealScreen, June 2003) says the CTF is issuing grants to only 57% of project applicants, down from 75% last spring. The Canadian government cut its contribution of the CTF’s annual funding pool to Cdn$75 million ($54.5 million) from Cdn$100 million ($ 72.7 million) in February. Grants are issued by the CTF twice a year, in the fall and spring.

Michael Moore‘s Bowling for Columbine has passed US$50 million in ticket sales worldwide since its theatrical release last October. In disclosing the milestone May 23, Alliance Atlantis – the film’s Toronto, Canada-based international distributor – says Bowling grossed more than $21 million in Canada and the U.S. alone. AA says it has been sold to more than 150 territories, and claims it is the first foreign documentary to sell one million admissions in Germany. In related news, Jeff Blitz’s Spellbound has earned $430,000 since its North American theatrical debut April 30, and Jacques Perrin‘s Winged Migration has made $866,000 since its limited release April 18.

Los Angeles, U.S. -based distributor Artisan Entertainment has acquired the North American distribution rights to the doc Step Into Liquid from San Diego-based Top Secret Productions. Artisan is planning a theatrical release for the film about surfing culture in August. Liquid was exhibited at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, U.S. (May 6 to 11). It is the directorial debut for Dana Brown, whose father Bruce directed the 1966 documentary The Endless Summer.

‘POV’, the influential PBS strand, has rolled out the first six documentaries of its 16th season, which runs from June to September. The season begins Tuesday June 24 with both Flag Wars, a film about the conflict behind urban gentrification in Columbus, U.S., and Georgie Girl, a profile of a New Zealand transsexual politician who was once a prostitute. Subsequent films include Larry v. Lockney, Discovering Dominga, The Flute Player, and 90 Miles. ‘POV’ will announce the second half of its season at a later date.

New York, U.S.-based network NBC believes America is ready for a gay dating-themed reality series. Slated to premiere on NBC’s upscale Bravo cable channel, the six-part Boy Meets Boy will feature a leading man vying for the affections of 15 suitors with the assistance of his best female friend. The program will follow the staple unscripted dating format — one-on-one dates in upscale locations. The planned unforeseen twist? Some of the daters are straight. Boy Meets Boy is coproduced by New York-based Evolution Film & Tape.

Just two weeks after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was turned down for increased funding (See RealScreen Plus May 15), the Sydney-based pubcaster has unplugged two digi-channels. In announcing the closure of Fly TV and ABC Kids May 26, ABC noted, ‘This is the first of several hard decisions [we] will make over the coming months concerning its output.’ The Aussie pubcaster calculates that its government funding has fallen ‘some 30%…in real terms’ from the levels seen in the mid-1980s.

BBC Worldwide, the international sales arm of the U.K. pubcaster, has negotiated several deals in Asia for its Learning TV programs. In Malaysia, cable and satellite channel ASTRO is launching a four-hour daily programming block on its educational network TVIQ. In Taiwan, Eastern TV has agreed to broadcast 100 hours in one year of Learning content and South Korea’s English TV will carry 200 hours a year. The programs, a mix of children and adult shows, will be transmitted in English.

Discovery Networks Europe, the London, U.K.-based branch of Discovery Communications, is launching Discovery Civilisation, Discovery Travel & Adventure and Discovery Science in Italy. The deal with Sky Italia sees the rollout take place later this summer, and features nine shows produced in Italy. DNE is planning to announce other new Italian programs and commissions.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.