MONTREAL — The war between Montreal’s three film fests heated up Tuesday when news broke that Daniel Langlois had ankled as topper of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema to concentrate on the first edition of the New Montreal FilmFest.
Move puts the future of the 34-year-old Nouveau fest in doubt.
News comes as a shock for industryites as the FilmFest was intended to replace Serge Losique’s failing Montreal World Film Festival, which recently lost government funding.
All that changed last week when the FilmFest, headed by vet Moritz de Hadeln, announced Oct. 12-23 dates — starting one day before the Nouveau event.
Langlois resigned Feb. 11, saying the funding agencies’ desire to have one main film event in Montreal made it impossible for the Nouveau to expand.
When Telefilm Canada and provincial funding agency Sodec chose the Equipe Spectra-led group in December to create the new fest, they insisted that Langlois be part of the proposal. He joined the board to help the fests work in tandem.
With his surprise departure, that partnership is all but dead. Nouveau executive director Sheila de La Varende, who was leading negotiations with the Spectra group, has also resigned.
Claude Chamberlan, director and founder of Nouveau, is the sole executive left. He downplayed Langlois’ resignation, but it’s a major loss.
Langlois is one of the city’s most dynamic cultural entrepreneurs and has deep pockets. He owns the Ex-Centris and Cinema du Parc arthouse cinemas, as well as a slew of media companies.
When he became prexy of the Nouveau in 1997, the event was in dire financial straits and many wondered how long it would survive. Since then it has flourished and become one of the city’s key cultural happenings.