Dec 04, 2020
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Montreal’s Film Festival kicks off

MONTREAL (CP) _ If Montreal’s premier film event was a movie itself, its title would probably be The Film Festival That Wouldn’t Die.

Last year a rival tried to knock it off. It had most of its government funding yanked. It weathered criticism in its early years for being too Hollywood _ and has been slagged as not Hollywood enough in its later years.

"It’s difficult to please everyone at the same time but we shouldn’t try to," festival vice-president Daniele Cauchard said with a laugh Wednesday, on the eve of the opening of the Montreal World Film Festival’s 30th anniversary edition.

The event kicks off Thursday with the premiere of Nos amis les terriens (Our Earthman Friends), the first feature directed by French science-fiction writer Bernard Werber.

About 200 features and as many shorts from 76 countries will unspool _ including 106 world premieres _ by the time the festival ends Sept. 4.

Oscar-winner Kathy Bates will sit on the jury this year, but otherwise there is a distinct lack of the Hollywood A-listers _ like Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese _ who attended in the past. Toronto’s International Film Festival is more of a playground for Hollywood’s famous.

That doesn’t seem to bother organizers who claim a loyal following for their roster of films, many of which are more likely to be seen in art houses than multiplexes.

One of the new twists will be a competitive category for first-time films.

"We noticed that a lot of first feature films are made every year and even more now because of the new technology that allows people with a smaller budget to be able go forward with a first project," Cauchard said.

Technology has been the big change Cauchard has seen in 30 years with the festival, with the event now being flooded by offerings on DVD.

"When we started we had mostly 35mm (film) prints," she said. "We used to receive less submissions because it was expensive."

Last year, the World Film Festival staged a stripped-down version after losing most of the funding it had previously received from the city, provincial and federal governments, including about $1 million from Telefilm Canada and the Quebec film funding agency SODEC. The cuts in funding followed widespread criticism of festival founder Serge Losique’s autocratic way of running the event.

The money went to the New Montreal FilmFest, organized by L’Equipe Spectra, the powerhouse behind the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

But the New Montreal FilmFest didn’t strike any chords with Montreal film buffs and folded after its only outing in the fall of 2005, being declared an unmitigated disaster with a $1.7-million deficit.

"It was so stupid, so stupid," Cauchard said looking back. "They tried to create another festival to replace us and they gave it a lot of money and what happened? They did a one-week festival without many guests, without anybody going into the theatres, most theatres were empty, and they have a deficit of $2 million."

There are reportedly talks underway to restore funding to the World Film Festival to supplement what it gets from private-sector sponsors. Losique still has a lawsuit pending against Telefilm, which he accuses of damaging the reputation of his event.

Rock Demers, a noted Quebec producer who has been involved with the festival for a number of years, said there is a need for the event.

"For Quebec, the World Film Festival succeeded in creating and maintaining an enthusiasm from the public for films other than American," he said. "That gives Quebecers the ability to compare our works to those of screenwriters of many regions."

He said it is "impossible" to think of another festival taking the place of Losique’s event because of the high degree of competition and the number of festivals already out there.

"If the World Film Festival _ against my thoughts, my wishes and my hopes _ were to disappear, we would have no more cinematic events of this scale," he said.

"All the windows are full," especially in the tourist season, he added

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Headline, Industry News

Montreal’s Film Festival kicks off

MONTREAL (CP) _ If Montreal’s premier film event was a movie itself, its title would probably be The Film Festival That Wouldn’t Die.

Last year a rival tried to knock it off. It had most of its government funding yanked. It weathered criticism in its early years for being too Hollywood _ and has been slagged as not Hollywood enough in its later years.

"It’s difficult to please everyone at the same time but we shouldn’t try to," festival vice-president Daniele Cauchard said with a laugh Wednesday, on the eve of the opening of the Montreal World Film Festival’s 30th anniversary edition.

The event kicks off Thursday with the premiere of Nos amis les terriens (Our Earthman Friends), the first feature directed by French science-fiction writer Bernard Werber.

About 200 features and as many shorts from 76 countries will unspool _ including 106 world premieres _ by the time the festival ends Sept. 4.

Oscar-winner Kathy Bates will sit on the jury this year, but otherwise there is a distinct lack of the Hollywood A-listers _ like Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese _ who attended in the past. Toronto’s International Film Festival is more of a playground for Hollywood’s famous.

That doesn’t seem to bother organizers who claim a loyal following for their roster of films, many of which are more likely to be seen in art houses than multiplexes.

One of the new twists will be a competitive category for first-time films.

"We noticed that a lot of first feature films are made every year and even more now because of the new technology that allows people with a smaller budget to be able go forward with a first project," Cauchard said.

Technology has been the big change Cauchard has seen in 30 years with the festival, with the event now being flooded by offerings on DVD.

"When we started we had mostly 35mm (film) prints," she said. "We used to receive less submissions because it was expensive."

Last year, the World Film Festival staged a stripped-down version after losing most of the funding it had previously received from the city, provincial and federal governments, including about $1 million from Telefilm Canada and the Quebec film funding agency SODEC. The cuts in funding followed widespread criticism of festival founder Serge Losique’s autocratic way of running the event.

The money went to the New Montreal FilmFest, organized by L’Equipe Spectra, the powerhouse behind the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

But the New Montreal FilmFest didn’t strike any chords with Montreal film buffs and folded after its only outing in the fall of 2005, being declared an unmitigated disaster with a $1.7-million deficit.

"It was so stupid, so stupid," Cauchard said looking back. "They tried to create another festival to replace us and they gave it a lot of money and what happened? They did a one-week festival without many guests, without anybody going into the theatres, most theatres were empty, and they have a deficit of $2 million."

There are reportedly talks underway to restore funding to the World Film Festival to supplement what it gets from private-sector sponsors. Losique still has a lawsuit pending against Telefilm, which he accuses of damaging the reputation of his event.

Rock Demers, a noted Quebec producer who has been involved with the festival for a number of years, said there is a need for the event.

"For Quebec, the World Film Festival succeeded in creating and maintaining an enthusiasm from the public for films other than American," he said. "That gives Quebecers the ability to compare our works to those of screenwriters of many regions."

He said it is "impossible" to think of another festival taking the place of Losique’s event because of the high degree of competition and the number of festivals already out there.

"If the World Film Festival _ against my thoughts, my wishes and my hopes _ were to disappear, we would have no more cinematic events of this scale," he said.

"All the windows are full," especially in the tourist season, he added

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headline, Industry News

Montreal’s Film Festival kicks off

MONTREAL (CP) _ If Montreal’s premier film event was a movie itself, its title would probably be The Film Festival That Wouldn’t Die.

Last year a rival tried to knock it off. It had most of its government funding yanked. It weathered criticism in its early years for being too Hollywood _ and has been slagged as not Hollywood enough in its later years.

"It’s difficult to please everyone at the same time but we shouldn’t try to," festival vice-president Daniele Cauchard said with a laugh Wednesday, on the eve of the opening of the Montreal World Film Festival’s 30th anniversary edition.

The event kicks off Thursday with the premiere of Nos amis les terriens (Our Earthman Friends), the first feature directed by French science-fiction writer Bernard Werber.

About 200 features and as many shorts from 76 countries will unspool _ including 106 world premieres _ by the time the festival ends Sept. 4.

Oscar-winner Kathy Bates will sit on the jury this year, but otherwise there is a distinct lack of the Hollywood A-listers _ like Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese _ who attended in the past. Toronto’s International Film Festival is more of a playground for Hollywood’s famous.

That doesn’t seem to bother organizers who claim a loyal following for their roster of films, many of which are more likely to be seen in art houses than multiplexes.

One of the new twists will be a competitive category for first-time films.

"We noticed that a lot of first feature films are made every year and even more now because of the new technology that allows people with a smaller budget to be able go forward with a first project," Cauchard said.

Technology has been the big change Cauchard has seen in 30 years with the festival, with the event now being flooded by offerings on DVD.

"When we started we had mostly 35mm (film) prints," she said. "We used to receive less submissions because it was expensive."

Last year, the World Film Festival staged a stripped-down version after losing most of the funding it had previously received from the city, provincial and federal governments, including about $1 million from Telefilm Canada and the Quebec film funding agency SODEC. The cuts in funding followed widespread criticism of festival founder Serge Losique’s autocratic way of running the event.

The money went to the New Montreal FilmFest, organized by L’Equipe Spectra, the powerhouse behind the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

But the New Montreal FilmFest didn’t strike any chords with Montreal film buffs and folded after its only outing in the fall of 2005, being declared an unmitigated disaster with a $1.7-million deficit.

"It was so stupid, so stupid," Cauchard said looking back. "They tried to create another festival to replace us and they gave it a lot of money and what happened? They did a one-week festival without many guests, without anybody going into the theatres, most theatres were empty, and they have a deficit of $2 million."

There are reportedly talks underway to restore funding to the World Film Festival to supplement what it gets from private-sector sponsors. Losique still has a lawsuit pending against Telefilm, which he accuses of damaging the reputation of his event.

Rock Demers, a noted Quebec producer who has been involved with the festival for a number of years, said there is a need for the event.

"For Quebec, the World Film Festival succeeded in creating and maintaining an enthusiasm from the public for films other than American," he said. "That gives Quebecers the ability to compare our works to those of screenwriters of many regions."

He said it is "impossible" to think of another festival taking the place of Losique’s event because of the high degree of competition and the number of festivals already out there.

"If the World Film Festival _ against my thoughts, my wishes and my hopes _ were to disappear, we would have no more cinematic events of this scale," he said.

"All the windows are full," especially in the tourist season, he added

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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