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The Don stares down his cinematic opponents

Continued from Page 2

Mr. Podeswa says his relationship with Mr. Lantos was agreeable, but not without conflict, much of it having to do with pacing the film in post-production. "He is willful," Mr. Podeswa allows, "but it doesn't come from ego. It comes from his passion. In the end, I think we all got what we wanted."

Toronto producer Laszlo Barna, a friend of Mr. Lantos's since childhood, says: "Robert is one of those rare producers who could have had a tremendous impact on Hollywood. He quite deliberately chose to fight his battles in Canada and it's benefited us tremendously."

Mr. Cronenberg says Mr. Lantos is more worldly and less insular than many Hollywood producers. "Look at his background. He's lived in many different places, learned different languages. He understands the world of politics, not just cinema. You can have a literate, wide-ranging discussion with him. He has a point of view, but I expect that from a creative producer and he will give ground."

Mr. Cronenberg says he is not surprised by the return to distribution. "Robert has a lot of energy. Maybe making one movie at a time is just not enough."

Will Mr. Lantos celebrate this double TIFF triumph? "We'll celebrate whether there's a triumph or not," he jokes."Movie-making is my passion, my love and my addiction. I don't make movies in the fantasy that I'll make so much money. I make those films that I believe must be made, that I have an affinity for. I don't really expect to make money. I'm happy when I don't lose money."

Picture of a career

Starts RSL Productions

Robert Lantos enters into film production in 1975 with such notable movies as director Gilles Carle's L'ange et la femme (1977) and George Kaczender's In Praise of Older Women (1978). Other highlights include Heavenly Bodies (1984) and Joshua Then and Now (1985) based on Mordecai Richler's novel. Through a merger with Montreal-based International Cinema Corp. in the mid-1980s, RSL morphs into Alliance Communications. Alliance also absorbs his distribution company, Vivafilm.

Awards and accolades

Among the major award winners Mr. Lantos helps produce during a particularly strong stretch throughout the 1990s are director David Cronenberg's Crash (1996), which won the special jury prize at Cannes and a handful of Genie awards, and Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter (1997), which won the Cannes grand jury prize, along with a number of Genie awards, and received two Oscar nominations.

Sells Alliance Atlantis

The merger of Alliance Communications and rival Atlantis Communications to create a Canadian entertainment powerhouse in 1998 nets Mr. Lantos a multimillion-dollar golden handshake. It also lets him get right back into film production. This era of his career includes such films as Mr. Egoyan's Ararat (2002) and Istvan Szabo's Being Julia (2004).

Back in film distribution

Days after unveiling his new distribution start-ups, Maximum Films International and Maximum Film Distribution, Maximum announces a partnership this week with the fast-growing Brampton, Ont.-based Entertainment One. The two have entered into a multipicture deal with U.S. distributor Magnolia Pictures and the U.S. cable channel HDNet. This once again changes the landscape of the Canadian film business, with Mr. Lantos in the centre of activity.

Guy Dixon

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