Fest proposals rejected, to be resubmitted by Dec. 1

MONTREAL — Canuck film funding agencies Telefilm Canada and Sodec are still in the hunt for a winning candidate to start up a new film fest in Montreal to replace Serge Losique’s Montreal World Film Festival.

The two agencies announced Friday that they had not accepted any of the four bids submitted. Instead, they have asked the groups to submit new proposals by Dec. 1.

Charles Belanger, chair of Telefilm Canada, said he is confident there will be a new dynamic international film festival in Montreal next year. But it’s still far from certain who will be running the event; Belanger was more clear who it won’t be. The Telefilm topper said the agency will not be giving any cash to Losique and his World Film Festival.

On Friday, Telefilm and Quebec film agency Sodec were supposed to announce the winning candidate, who would receive C$1 million ($798,000) in Telefilm/Sodec financing to create a new film fest. Belanger said none of the proposals was complete.

The Montreal Just for Laughs comedy fest, Vision Globale (which runs the Fantasia festival in Montreal), the Festival of Nouveau Cinema and an industry group led by L’Equipe Spectra all had tendered proposals.

Telefilm and Sodec are on a quest to help create an event that would take the place of the World Film Festival, which has been harshly criticized by both agencies. In his clearest message yet since this battle erupted in July between the agencies and Losique, Belanger said there is no possibility that the World Film Festival will receive the Telefilm and Sodec coin next year.

Belanger said he expects to announce a winning candidate at the new deadline of Dec. 1.

“We are very confident that we will find one proposal that will meet all the criteria because some of them are very close,” he said. “They’re all very dynamic people, and now that they know there are missing pieces, they’ll make sure they fill the gaps and they come in with the best proposal possible.”

Three of the four candidates confirmed they will be reworking and resubmitting their proposals. But there likely will be at most three projects because two of the candidates, Just for Laughs and Fantasia, are planning to merge their projects to propose one fest that would include both comedy films and the fantasy, Asian and action fare associated with Fantasia.

The group made up of film industry reps and led by L’Equipe Spectra confirmed it is planning to submit a new proposal. But this time it won’t be associated with Losique. Group initially had said it would like to work in collaboration with the World Film Festival president, but Spectra issued a statement Friday noting, “Losique excluded himself by publicly refusing all forms of collaboration with the film milieu.”

Losique had told the media he had no intention of working with Spectra, which runs the Montreal Intl. Jazz Festival and the Montreal FrancoFolies music fest. The Spectra bid includes many of Quebec’s top film players, including “The Barbarian Invasions” producer Denise Robert, TVA Films president Pierre Lampron and Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm prexy Guy Gagnon.

Sheila de La Varende, executive director of the Festival of Nouveau Cinema, said her fest has not yet decided if it will submit another proposal.

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