You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pix punchy, biz slow in Montreal

Latin Americans shine due to lack of major H'wood product

MONTREAL — Midway through the 25th anniversary edition of the Montreal World Film Festival, it’s shaping up as a decent year for pics but a slow one for biz.

The Montreal Film Market has doubled its space at fest headquarters, but there’s little activity on the market floor. U.S. players and Euro companies now wait until the Toronto festival — which kicks off next week –to buy and sell. But Montreal is still an important pit stop for some industryites, notably the Latin Americans.

Montreal has an annual program devoted to Latin American cinema, and the lack of major Hollywood product in Montreal gives the Latin Americans more room to shine.

“Toronto is geared toward the market and dominated by the Americans, so it’s tougher,” said Donald Ranvaud from Rio de Janiero-based Videofilmes. “Montreal is great for Latin American films. It’s useful and it’s also fun.”

Videofilmes has two pics at the fest: Competition entry “To the Left of the Father” from Brazil, and “Smokers Only” from first-time Argentine helmer Veronica Chen.

The Montreal festival is also attracting fewer major stars. Italian actress Sophia Loren showed up on the weekend to pick up a lifetime-achievement award and attend the world premiere of her latest film, the Lina Wertmuller-directed “Francesca and Nunziata.”

Jackie Chan will be in town next weekend for a tribute, and “Amelie From Montmartre” helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Benjamin Bratt, star of competition entry “Pinero,” are due later in the week. But big names are so thin on the ground here that it was a major blow when producer Dino de Laurentiis dropped out at the last minute as chairman of the market conference.

Auteur alert

The folks who do make the trek tend to be from the auteur side of the biz. For example, Iranian helmer Majid Majidi — who has won two Grand Prix of the Americas in Montreal –returned to the fest this week to premiere “Baran,” his new Miramax release that has recieved positive buzz here. Also, Argentine director Fernando Solanas and Spanish actor Francisco Rabal were at the event to receive career tributes.

One of the few major Hollywood figures here is filmmaker Brian De Palma, who comes to Montreal annually to screen pics, and always keeps a low profile. De Palma did make it to a luncheon Tuesday in honor of Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel, who was given the Maurice Bessey Award for film criticism. Pics that have received favorable attention include opening-night selection “Tar Angel,” a tale of Algerian immigrants in Montreal from Quebec helmer Denis Chouinard; German competition entry “The Experiment”; and Indian drama “Maya.”

As promised by fest president Serge Losique, there are no fireworks to mark the 25th anniversary and the fest is as low key as ever. But the pics still make it a key event for critics and film buffs, said Canuck producer Kevin Tierney (“Varian’s War”).

The Montreal film festival continues until Monday, with the competition awards to be handed out Monday night.

More Film

  • Greek Director Probes Deeper Issues in

    Greek Director Probes Deeper Issues in Berlin Festival Film 'Sargasso Sea'

    After a sudden suicide turns a small eel-farming town upside down, an investigation unearths troubling secrets about the town’s past. Those discoveries will bring together two women trapped in solitary lives, offering each a chance to find salvation. “The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea” is the third feature by Greek director Syllas Tzoumerkas. Starring frequent [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    France's Cesar Awards Leads the Way for the Oscars

    Since 2011, France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma has steadfastly held its annual awards ceremony the Friday before the Academy Awards. And if launching the Césars two days before the Oscars holds a real, practical benefit — allowing those walking both red carpets time to linger over their last flutes of Champagne before [...]

  • Australian Director Gameau Challenges Audiences to

    Australian Director Gameau Challenges Audiences to Improve the Planet

    Bright-eyed Australian director Damon Gameau set out in his previous movie, “That Sugar Film” to challenge everyday thoughtlessness about the dangers of our modern lifestyle — and became profoundly sick while doing so. In his new film “2040,” which plays in Berlin’s Generation Kplus section and which he styles as a “hybrid feature documentary,” Gameau [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    Writers Guild Sends Hollywood Agents Proposed Code of Conduct

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent Hollywood talent agencies a proposed “Code of Conduct” with tough new restrictions on how they operate as agents for writer clients. The WGA made the disclosure Thursday night in an email to its 12,000 members, a day after announcing that it will hold a March 25 [...]

  • Best Score Nominee Alexandre Desplat Is

    Best Score Nominee Alexandre Desplat to Skip Oscar Ceremony

    Best score nominee Alexandre Desplat will be unable to attend Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies because of recent throat surgery, a rep for the composer confirms. The French native, already a two-time Oscar winner (for 2014’s “Grand Budapest Hotel” and 2017’s “The Shape of Water”), is nominated this year for his Japanese-flavored score for Wes Anderson’s “Isle [...]

  • Space Jam

    'Space Jam 2' Gets Summer 2021 Release Date

    Warner Bros. has set a July 16, 2021, date for its live-action/animated sports comedy “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James. Terence Nance, creator of the HBO show “Random Acts of Flyness,” is directing the sequel. His credits include “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” “Swimming in Your Skin Again,” and “Univitellin.” The movie marks James’ first [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content