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Galafilm Inc. was founded in Montreal in 1990 by Arnie Gelbart. Gelbart (who was born in Brussels and raised in Montreal) got his start in the film industry working as the Assistant Director on Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie in 1972. He subsequently honed his talents writing and co-writing various screenplays, including Montenegro, and serving as Assistant Director and Associate Producer of Dusan Makavejev’s Sweet Movie. From 1984 until 1990 he served as President of the production house Cleo 24, which he also co-founded.
Over the course of the company’s history, Galafilm has produced award-winning documentaries, television dramas, children’s programming, and feature films. Perhaps best known for its documentary productions, the company first came to prominence with its controversial three-part series The Valour and the Horror. Directed by Brian McKenna, the program dramatized the experience of Canadian soldiers in World War II. One episode, in which the moral and logistical exigency of the bombing of German cities instead of military targets, drew the ire of retired service men and resulted in a $500 million lawsuit (eventually settled in Galafilm’s favour). The series won three Gemini Awards.
Following on the success of The Valour and the Horror, Galafilm went on to produce a number of war documentaries from a Canadian perspective, including War at Sea (1995), Web of War (1995), and The War of 1812 (1999). The latter won a Gemini Award for Best Sound, and a Hot Docs award for Best Cinematography. Galafilm hasalso produced a number of historical documentaries on a variety of subjects including Canadian playwright Ted Allan, the riot surrounding the 1955 suspension of hockey star Maurice Richard, the history of the Vikings and the travails of a boat of Jewish refugees in 1939. They have also produced programs exploring science and technology and social topics.
Galafilm Inc. has won a variety of awards for its feature films, including three Genies for The Hanging Garden (1997), four Genies for Lilies (1996), and several international awards for Steel Toes (2006). Galafilm’s youth-oriented programming has had similar success, with 15 Love (2004) winning a Gemini for Best Writing and Fungus the Bogeyman (2004) winning two awards in the United Kingdom for Best Children’s Show. The company is notable for releasing all of its films in both French and English language versions.
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University of Toronto Media Commons
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Created on April 8, 2015
Galafilm website http://www.galafilm.com/