Quebec fest fracas

Rivals object to New Montreal film event

MONTREAL — On the day that the fledgling New Montreal Filmfest officially launched, two rival events lodged objections to its format.

On Thursday World Film Festival topper Serge Losique disputed the new event’s right to use the name, saying by law it belonged to his org, while Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema took issue with its date. New fest, backed by Equipe Spectra, will run Oct. 12-23, starting one day before the Festival du Nouveau Cinema.

Losique also has two lawsuits in Canadian court, attempting to prove that federal film funding agency Telefilm Canada is acting illegally by removing its funding to help create a another film fest in Montreal.

“Besides our name, Spectra is also usurping our mandate, which has also been established since 1977,” the World Film Festival statement said.

In December, Telefilm Canada and Quebec film agency Sodec chose the Spectra-led group to create another film fest to take the place of Losique’s event.

The film funding agencies are unhappy with the way Losique has run his festival in recent years.

Despite the controversy, Alain Simard, prexy of Equipe Spectra and the New Montreal Filmfest, was upbeat at a Montreal press conference to confirm former Berlin and Venice Film Festival head honcho Moritz de Hadeln as program director.

“This will allow us to have instant international recognition,” Simard said. “It had to be someone of international caliber, and we have one of the greatest artistic directors in the world.”

He denied Losique’s right to the fest’s name and said his event will work closely with the Nouveau Cinema fest, underlining that its prexy, Daniel Langlois, is on the Spectra fest’s board.

But Nouveau Cinema director Claude Chamberlan said his group was taken aback by Simard’s announcement.

“It is starting very badly for the new festival,” Chamberlan said. “This is simply the same scenario as the fight between our fest and the World Film Festival. It’s about confrontation, lack of respect.

“The goal is to get rid of our festival. It’s a ridiculous situation that damages Quebec’s reputation once again on the international stage. We look like a banana republic.”

Simard unveiled more details about the new fest. De Hadeln’s Berlin-based film consulting company de Hadeln & Partners has been signed to a 4½-year contract, and the deal includes hiring Erika de Hadeln, his wife, as assistant director.

Simard would not confirm how much money the two would receive.

The festival will have a budget of C$5.4 million ($4.3 million) this year and $4.8 million by next year, when the event will take place during summer.

Simard also announced the selection committee that will pick the films for the fest’s official sections. The committee will have seven members, including Montreal helmer Lea Pool, Latin America film expert Andre Paquet and short-film programmer Danny Lennon.

De Hadeln has also tapped international delegates to help pick films. These include German helmer Christel Buschman, film historian Hans-Joachim Schiegel, and film critic Sylvio Danese.

A number of film personalities were also added to the festival’s various boards, with Turin Film Museum director Alberto Barbera, National Film Board of Canada commissioner Jacques Bensimon and actor Yves Jacques joining the board of directors.

The festival’s programming advisory committee also has some new members, including filmmakers Louis Belanger, Charles Biname and Jean-Claude Labrecque.

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