In Montreal, Galafilm has quietly gone about producing some of the most talked-about history, science and social docs going, and evidence suggests bigger is yet to come. That’s saying something, given that one of the series Galafilm was noticed for was a $20-million joint effort with Discovery Canada called Race to Mars. Despite the fact the series premiered against season debuts of The Simpsons and King of the Hill, Mars was the number-one show on specialty channels in Canada among adults 25-to-54 and 18-to-49.
Looking forward, one of Galafilm’s most eagerly anticipated co-projects has to be the adaptation of Margaret MacMillan’s book Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. Paris 1919 will be produced in conjunction with the National Film Board of Canada and France’s 13 Production. The $2-million doc will be shot almost entirely handheld on film by filmmaker Paul Cowan for a gritty, history feel that will blend well with archival material from the period. The 2 x 1-hour miniseries has already attracted pre-sales from around the world, including ARTE France, TVO (Canada) and NHK (Japan).
Galafilm CEO and EP Arnie Gelbart admits tackling such huge projects represents a huge cost in time and effort, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. ‘We think of Galafilm as a home for creators with a point of view, filmmakers who bring a unique vision to the work they do,’ he observes. ‘While financing these films is becoming more difficult, we continue to believe that well-crafted, challenging projects will find broadcaster and audience support.’
Employees: 20 permanent
Hours in 2007: 48 (35 non-fiction)
Recent titles: The Great War Experience, China’s Sexual Revolution, Race to Mars
Current/upcoming titles: Quebec 1759: Battle for a Continent (90′ feature for History Television, ARTE ), Naica Crystal Cave (Discovery Canada, National Geographic US, ARTE, La7, NHK), Downbeat (OLN Canada), Air Africa (Travel, OLN), Paris 1919 (ARTE, TVO)