New fest on life support

New Montreal future in question

This might be the end of the road for the fledgling New Montreal FilmFest after just one edition.

Organizer L’Equipe Spectra wants to merge the event with the smaller, well-established Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema. If that fails, Spectra will drop out of the FilmFest.

September’s FilmFest was plagued by problems. Ticket sales were poor, the selection of films was widely criticized and there was a very public war of words between festival prexy Alain Simard, who is also CEO of Spectra, and his outspoken program director Moritz de Hadeln.

Organizers of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema refused to comment until after its board of directors meet later this week.

The FilmFest was created after Canadian film funders Telefilm Canada and Quebec’s Sodec became disenchanted with Serge Losique’s Montreal World Film Festival and withdrew their coin.

The winning bid to run the new event came from Spectra and a Quebec film industry alliance dubbed the Regroupement Pour un Festival de Cinema a Montreal.

That group includes executives from leading Canuck film companies, including Alliance Atlantis, Christal Films and Seville Pictures.

An open letter to the media from the Regroupement’s board of directors admitted the festival had been a bust.

It could mount a film festival without Spectra, but it would need another partner. Complicating matters, five of the members of the Regroupement’s board are Spectra executives, including Simard.

Meanwhile, Losique’s fest has not died, as many expected: It will run Aug. 24 to Sept. 4 next year.

“The best thing that can happen is that (Spectra) quits the scene altogether, because they’ve done a lot of harm to Montreal,” Losique said.

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