François Macerola, Part 4: Québec and International Markets and Reflections on a Long Career

Interviewed by Evelyn Ellerman at Montréal on March, 2012

Ellerman. As you're speaking about forging a new kind of cultural field here in Canada, I'm wondering about Québec in the international field. Is la francophonie a significant market for the Québec product?

Macerola. It is an important market, but not that important. This year, our success is with Germany; we did more business with Germany that with France. You're surprised. And that is a typically reaction from an English-speaking person. They always believe that our relationship is with la francophonie. Of course, we do have a good relationship there. But nevertheless we have a very good relationship with other countries that are not part of la francophonie. Now, at SODEC, we do not refer to la francophonie, or to the Commonwealth, we refer to the European Union. That's our most important market.

E. It sounds as though we are finally breaking out of our colonial bonds.

M. absolutely. The arts and crafts -- 80% of all the sales are done in English Canada and in the States. Germany is very important for filmmaking. Italy also. For music, the States and France. For publishing, it's a little bit more difficult, but it's Latin America and France. And I agree with you that you could have that perception, because before, it was francophonie. Now it's not that way anymore. We do have some very well-established markets with which we want to work, but there's also emerging markets like China, India, Russia and Brazil. And we're working now with these people.

E. It sounds like you're very optimistic about the future.

M. Yes. Yesterday I delivered a speech to 400 people; it was under the authority of an organization called CORIM (Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal), which is international. At the end, I said that, in order to be well received in other countries, the price we have to pay is to be profoundly Canadian (Québécois, because that's where I live). That's it. The problem that I have with the filmmaking industry in English Canada is that they very often try to imitate the Americans. And the Americans are not interested in seeing a pale imitation of what they do on a regular basis. That's why I'm trying to convince the filmmakers, the producers, not to make a film in order to reach the Americans, but to try to tell a story to reach your own people. And, if that story is good, it will travel very well.

E. Trying to make your product look like the product of a more powerful source is also a colonial attitude.

M. Absolutely. And with France, that was absolutely the relationship that we had. We were so pleased when we were invited by somebody in Paris, we would change our accents, we would subtitle the film. It's over. We are Québec; we are part of a country called Canada. This is the French that we speak and if you don't like it, we're going to go somewhere else.

E. That's the mature attitude.

M. I agree with you.

E. You've had a lot of positions in the industry over the years. What has given you the most pleasure?
M. The NFB, because at the NFB I was still close to the product. I started as a lawyer, but after that I went to production and distribution; I was the head of French programming. And then after that the Film Commission. But the job that I preferred was head of French programming, production.

E. What are you the most proud of?

M. I really don't know. I think that I was in some places at certain times when it was important to be there. I think I made a good contribution to the film industry. I was certainly proud to be part of the Decline of the American Empire team.  But nevertheless I don't make those kinds of evaluations. But when I'm alone by myself having a drink, traveling somewhere, I very often refer back to that role with the NFB and of the role of production. Telefilm Canada was interesting, but at a certain time we had to reduce and that was not very interesting. And I also have very good memories when I was Executive Producer at Cirque du Soleil. That was really fantastic. Now, I'm enjoying myself.

E. That's the best thing, to get to that point in your career when you're enjoying yourself. Thank you very much.