Few H'wood preems on fest sked

MONTREAL — This year’s edition of the Montreal World Film Festival features pics from a number of seasoned arthouse helmers who’ve been regulars at the event for years, but the Montreal program is light on A-list world preems and high-profile U.S. fare.

Festival president Serge Losique unveiled the lineup for the 28th edition at a news conference Tuesday at the Imperial Cinema, the festival’s flagship venue. Fest runs Aug. 26-Sept. 6.

The media peppered Losique and fest veepee Daniele Cauchard with questions about the future of the festival in light of recent announcements from funding agencies Telefilm Canada and SODEC that they were rethinking their financial support for Losique’s festival. Losique categorically refused all comment on the matter, and a defiant Cauchard quipped, “Maybe we’ll do our own report,” referring to the highly critical report on their event released by the two agencies.

The Hollywood majors have virtually deserted Montreal in recent years, so it’s notable that the fest managed to snare two studio pics for its official competition. One of the studio entries in the competition is Scottish helmer Paul McGuigan’s Montreal-shot drama “Wicker Park”; the MGM film stars Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Diane Kruger and Matthew Lillard. The other U.S. pic in competition is “Around the Bend,” a Warner Independent Pictures release from writer-director Jordan Roberts that stars Michael Caine, Christopher Walken and Josh Lucas.

Montreal regulars Raoul Ruiz, Carlos Saura and Paul Cox all have films in the competition. Ruiz weighs in with “Dias de Camp,” a Chilean-French co-production that will world preem in Montreal. Spanish helmer Saura is repped by “The 7th Day,” about a bitter family feud, while Cox brings “Human Touch,” a story of erotic awakening.

The Montreal competition often has a strong selection of Quebecois and English-Canadian pics, but that’s not the case this year. The sole Canadian entry is French-lingo Quebec pic “The Five of Us,” from helmer Ghyslaine Cote.

In fact, Canuck presence is minimal this year. The Panorama Canada sidebar has only seven features, and there is just one other high-profile Quebec pic in the fest aside from “The Five of Us” — novelist-turned-helmer Dany Laferriere’s “How to Conquer America in One Night,” the tale of a Haitian living in Montreal.

The Hors Concours out-of-competition section includes a couple of prominent North American preems, including Eric Rohmer’s “Triple Agent,” a 1930s-set story of espionage and betrayal; and Youssef Chahine’s French-Egyptian co-production “Alexandria … New York.”

It is not in any of the printed press material, but Losique took many by surprise, including his own publicist, by announcing the fest would offer a special screening of John Duigan’s Montreal-shot historical drama “Head in the Clouds,” which stars Penelope Cruz, Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend.

Fest also will include tributes to Gallic thesp Isabelle Adjani, Greek auteur Theo Angelopoulos and Croatian helmer Krsto Papic.

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