×

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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • (from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)

    Box Office: 'Hobbs & Shaw' Scores $102 Million Debut in China, Nears $600 Million Globally

    Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” returned to first place on the international box office charts, thanks to a massive $102 million debut in China. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, collected another $120 million overseas, boosting its foreign tally to $441 million. “Hobbs & Shaw” is nearing the $600 million mark [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Rises to No. 1 With $21 Million Debut

    “Angel Has Fallen,” the third chapter in Lionsgate and Millenium’s action franchise starring Gerard Butler, had a stronger opening weekend than expected, collecting $21.25 million during its first three days of release. Those ticket sales were enough to top domestic box office charts, bumping last weekend’s champ, Universal’s comedy “Good Boys,” to second place. Starring [...]

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content