A Telefilm Canada veteran with a strong background in accounting has been named the new executive director of the Crown corporation by Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore. The announcement was made Tuesday in Ottawa.
Carolle Brabant, a Montrealer, succeeds Torontonian Wayne Clarkson as the day-to-day head of Telefilm which, with an annual budget of about $107-million, is a major investor in Canada's film, television and new media industries. Brabant is the first female executive director of Telefilm, established by the Liberal government of Lester Pearson under the then-moniker the Canadian Film Development Corp..
In a brief interview yesterday, Brabant said she "couldn't be more happy" about her new job. "I have a lot of faith in this industry and its creators and I will be working to gain more visibility on the national and international stage for this industry, with Telefilm support. That's really the goal I will be aiming at."
"Of course," she added, "I have a lot of ideas, but you'll allow me the time to share those ideas with our stakeholders, the Department [of Canadian Heritage] the board, our clients and, of course, the team I'll be working with."
It was known that the Harper government was looking for a francophone with strong business experience to succeed Clarkson, who before coming to Telefilm in January 2005, had been executive director of the Canadian Film Centre as well as chairman of the former Ontario Film Development Corp. and executive director of what is now the Toronto International Film Festival.
Prior to Brabant's appointment yesterday, there had been intense speculation that another Montrealer, Michel Roy, would be named executive director. Roy, a former provincial deputy minister of tourism and communications, was named chairman of Telefilm's board in the fall of 2007, a position he still holds. Two candidates were put before the Heritage minister for approval by a search committee but it's not known if Roy's was one of the two.
Brabant has been associated with Telefilm for 20 years, mostly in senior management positions. Most recently she was director of administration and corporate services for the Crown corporation. She holds an accounting degree from University of Quebec, Chicoutimi as well as an M.B.A. from the École des hautes études commerciales in Montreal. She served as Telefilm's acting executive director for almost seven months, starting in July 2004.
Initial response from the film and television community was cautious. "It is a smart and safe choice," said Hussain Amarshi, head of Mongrel Media distribution in Toronto. "Telefilm has, in the last few years, relied considerably on industry consultations to guide its policy and Carolle's role will be to continue this process and let the industry determine the direction of Telefilm."
However, another film insider, requesting anonymity, said he didn't know what to think. "It all depends on Michel Roy's role, what public policy initiatives are involved. If it's strictly a fiscal management initiative, she's a good choice. But for the film industry as an industry, it seems unclear."
Serendipity Point Films head Robert Lantos, whose credits include Barney's Version and Fugitive Pieces, said he doesn't know Ms. Brabant, "but I wish her well in her new job."