240-film slate heavy on first-time directors

The lineup for the 33rd Montreal World Film Festival was unveiled Tuesday, a 240-pic slate heavy on first-time helmers and off-the-beaten-track movies from 78 countries.

The 20-pic World Competition spotlights more well-known helmers including Quebec director Roger Cantin and his “A Cargo to Africa,” whose star Pierre Lebeau will receive the fest’s Grand Prize of the Americas honorary award.

Films it will compete with include Tony Gatlif’s “Freedom” and Gallic veteran Claude Miller’s “I’m Glad That My Mother Is Alive,” which he made with this son, Nathan. Claude Miller’s “Marching Band,” about the bands’ place in U.S. culture, plays in the Documentaries of the World sidebar.

The sidebar will open with the world preem of the official film of the Beijing Olympics, “The Everlasting Flame — Beijing 2008,” on Sept. 5 with helmer Gu Jun present.

The 20 pics in the First Films World Competition underline the fest’s dedication to tyro talent.

It includes the last film starring the late French thesp Guillaume Depardieu, Romanian-French co-production “The Childhood of Icarus” from helmer Alexandre Iordachescu. Depardieu plays a man who wants to turn back the clock and undo an accident that led to a major disability.

The World Greats section features Benoit Jacquot’s “Villa Amalia,” French director Danielle Thompson’s “Le Code a change” (Change of Plans), Polish helmer Andrzej Wajda’s “Sweet Rush” and Montreal helmer John N. Smith’s “Love and Savagery.”

Quebec City writer-director Ricardo Trogi’s autobiographical “1981” is the previously announced opening film.

Montreal has more federal funding this year, with Telefilm Canada kicking in C$328,000 ($298,000) and a federal tourism program set to add $404,000 more.

Fest, which runs Aug. 27 to Sept. 7, had almost all of its public coin withdrawn five years ago and it has struggled financially ever since.

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