MONTREAL — Montreal World Film Festival prexy Serge Losique is suing Moritz de Hadeln, head of the upstart New Montreal FilmFest, for C$250,000 ($206,000) in damages for libel and defamation of character.
De Hadeln, who is in Montreal this week, was served the legal papers at the offices of Equipe Spectra, organizers of the New Montreal FilmFest, on Tuesday afternoon.
Suit is in response to comments de Hadeln made two years ago about Losique.
De Hadeln, who was head of the Venice fest at the time, likened Losique to notorious American gangster Al Capone.
The two were engaged in a bitter war of words over the 2003 dates of their respective events. De Hadeln said Losique had unilaterally changed the Montreal dates so they overlapped with Venice and the first few days of the Toronto Film Festival.
On Wednesday, de Hadeln said the suit was without merit.
“Why didn’t he sue me right at the beginning?” de Hadeln asked. “What is he waiting two years for? It’s a big joke. I find it utterly ridiculous.”
Losique also is suing Telefilm for $2 million in damages, alleging the film funding agency’s decision to remove coin from his event to create the New Montreal FilmFest is illegal.
In addition, the World Film Festival is suing Equipe Spectra for $1.6 million in damages for allegedly trying to usurp the name and mandate of Losique’s festival.
Losique rejected claims he is suing everyone in sight, saying he is only suing “all the people plotting against the World Film Festival.”
The New Montreal FilmFest is set to take place Oct. 12-23. Losique says the World Film Festival will run Aug. 26-Sept. 5, but both Telefilm and Quebec funding agency Sodec are not financing the event this year. Both will give their coin to de Hadeln’s festival.