Montreal accents Israeli pix, beefs up confabs

The official competition at this year’s Montreal World Film Festival will include two new Quebecois pix, a couple of Chinese features and one film from Israel. Fest topper Serge Losique has yet to unveil the slate for this year’s edition – the full set will be announced Aug. 8 – but festival and industry sources have revealed 20 titles set to unspool at the event, which runs Aug. 24 to Sept. 4.

“L’Enfant D’Eau,” the latest pic from Robert Menard, director of the hit comedy “Cruising Bar, will have its world preem in the Montreal competition. Penned by Claire Wojas, this drama produced by Menard and Roger Frappier (“Love and Human Remains”) is a troubling tale of a 12-year-old girl and a mentally handicapped 20-year-old man washed ashore in a deserted part of the Bahamas. The other French-lingo Quebec film to take its bow in the official competition is “The Black List” (Liste Noire), a thriller about corruption and sexual intrigue from first-time helmer Jean-Marc Vallee. Astral Films has Canadian rights to the pic.

Israel is repped in the competition by “Passover Fever,” a first feature from writer-director Shemi Zarhin that stars well-known Israeli thesp Sela Almagor.

China’s Warrior’

China sends “Warrior Lanling” to the competition, theater director Hu Xuchua’s first film; and “A Mongolian Tale,” the latest offering from helmer Xie Fei, whose “Oil Maker’s Family” won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin fest in 1993.

The festival will also include a special spotlight on new cinema from Israel, with 12 Israeli pix, including the out-of-competition entry “Under the Domim Tree,” a drama from helmer Eli Cohen.

The Israeli sidebar features “On the Edge” from director Amnon Rubinstein, a film centered on a Polish family that emigrates to Palestine in the 1920s; Ron Ninio’s “Actors,” about a group of young theater-school grads; and Eytan Fox’s “Song of the Siren,” set in Tel Aviv at the beginning of the Gulf War. Other pix unspooling in the sidebar include “Don’t Touch My Holocaust,” helmer Asher Tlalim’s exploration of Germany and Israel’s differing memories of the Holocaust; “Sh’chur,” the feature debut from Shmuel Hasfari; and “There Was No War in ’72,” a coming-of-age drama from director David Kreiner.

The section will also screen two pix from helmer Amit Goren: “Good or Bad, Black and White,” which won the best documentary award at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival, and prison pic “6 Open, 21 Closed.” The sidebar selection is rounded out by Alex Cohen’s “Bustan Abraham,” Michal Bat Adam’s “An Imagined Autobiography” and “Electric Blanket,” a pic from director Assi Dayan, son of politician Moshe Dayan.

The festival’s market has been beefed up this year with the introduction of ProductionExchange, a program designed to facilitate the financing of new feature projects, and the first-ever full-scale symposium, Multimedia 95, that will bring together industry leaders from the U.S., Canada and Europe Aug. 28-29. Last year’s market drew more than 800 industryites from 52 countries and registration is up this year, according to market director Gilles Beriault.

“The people attending will be more varied,” said Beriault. “With ProductionExchange, there will be more bankers and people from the financial community. The exchange will attract people who aren’t just looking to buy and sell, but who are looking for partners.”

Execs slated to attend the revamped confab include Famous Players president Joseph Peixoto, Alliance Communications topper Robert Lantos, Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti and Cinepix Film Properties president Andre Link, plus other high-ranking media execs.

The panels will cover such topics as the information superhighway, children’s entertainment and Canadian-U.S. co-productions.

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