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Montreal fests to spar in court

Canuck film festivals face name suit

MONTREAL — The Montreal World Film Festival has filed a lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court alleging that the New Montreal FilmFest run by Equipe Spectra is attempting to usurp the World Film Festival’s name and mandate.

Lawsuit, which seeks C$2 million ($1.6 million) in damages, states that both the French and English names of the new event are too similar to names already registered by Serge Losique’s World Film Festival.

The new Spectra fest is titled Le Festival international de films de Montreal in French and the New Montreal FilmFest in English. Lawsuit notes that Losique’s event already has legal rights to the names Festival international du film de Montreal and Montreal International Film Festival.

The lawsuit argues that the new fest is deliberately trying to create confusion between the two events and to take advantage of “the prestigious reputation of the World Film Festival.”

Spectra president Alain Simard said Losique’s lawsuit is absolutely without merit.

“We’re not in his dates and we’re not on his site,” Simard said. “He just wants to get media attention. He’s never done business under those names. This is just a nuisance. It creates doubts and it’s an act of aggression.”

Losique said Simard’s fest is deliberately trying to imitate the World Film Festival and take over the event’s position in the international film milieu.

“They’re creating confusion all over the world,” Losique said. “They’re introducing an official competition. They’re taking over our mandate.”

Last year, film funding agencies Telefilm Canada and SODEC chose the Spectra-led project to create a new international film fest designed to replace the World Film Festival. The film funders are unhappy with Losique’s confrontational management style and what they see as the event’s lack of transparent financial management.

Spectra recently announced that the first edition of the New Montreal FilmFest will run Oct. 12 to 23, and it will be headed by Moritz de Hadeln, the former head of the Berlin and Venice film fests. De Hadeln is Losique’s archrival, and they have had heated battles over the years.

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