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This article was updated at 6:30 p.m. PT on July 31, 2003.

See lineupMONTREAL — Montreal World Film Festival prexy Serge Losique on Thursday provided a taste of the films skedded for the event, including a number of U.S. indie pics, notably helmer Gus Van Sant’s provocative Palme d’Or winner “Elephant.”

He also spoke for the first time about a controversy over the fest’s date changes, which he said has been blown out of proportion by the media.

Montreal, which usually wraps on Labor Day, will run Aug. 27-Sept. 7, overlapping with Venice and with the first weekend of Canuck archrival Toronto.

“A lot of people tell us it doesn’t matter,” said fest VP Daniele Cauchard. “Most people from abroad don’t stay for the whole festival anyway. So it’s not such a big deal.”

However, the industry has been very negative about the change, announced in the fall.

“Not only is it bad for Canadian filmmakers but it’s also unfortunate for international buyers because people can’t be at two places at the same time,” said “Maelstrom” producer Roger Frappier. “For a lot of the buyers Toronto comes first, so if the dates overlap they won’t come to Montreal. It just shows that Montreal is losing more ground on the international level.”

Losique will be hoping that the 34 titles announced Thursday will whet the industry’s appetite — a full lineup will be unveiled Aug. 12.

Apart from “Elephant,” inspired by the 1999 Columbine High School slayings, lineup includes “Manhood,” produced by Jung N Restless Prods., about a man trying to give up his womanizing ways, and “Die Mommie Die,” with legit veteran Charles Busch and Jason Priestley.

The U.S. competitor for the Grand Prix of the Americas is “The Gun (From 6 to 7:30 p.m.),” a film from L.A.-based Russian helmer Vladimir Alenikov (“The Red One: Triumph”) and produced by Front Line Films. Filmed in real time and shot in only 15 scenes with no cuts, pic follows the movements of a gun.

‘French’ taste

The competition also includes “French Men,” from Algerian-born Gallic writer-director Marc Esposito, and “Gaz Bar Blues,” the much anticipated second feature from Montreal helmer Louis Belanger (“Post Mortem”).

Italian filmmaker Gabriele Salvatores’ “I’m Not Scared,” which Miramax is distributing, will screen out of competition. Pic tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who stumbles across a kidnapped boy.

Montreal also will screen Iranian helmer Samira Makhmalbaf’s “Panj-E Asr,” about post-Taliban Afghanistan; German director Helma Sanders-Brahms’ “The Color of Soul”; “The House by the Canal,” from Alain Berliner (“La Vie en rose”); and Rolf de Heer’s Australian pic “Alexandra’s Project.”

The fest has skedded a tribute to Montreal producer Denise Robert, who has two hits this year, “The Barbarian Invasions” and “Mambo Italiano.” The tribute will include a screening of Denys Arcand’s “Barbarian Invasions,” the opening-night pic at the Toronto fest.

Losique and Cauchard said that new awards, originally meant to be accompanied by prize money, will not have cash attached this year.

Films from various sections at the Montreal Film Festival, announced on Thursday, July 31

Le Coeur des Hommes (French Men)
Marc Esposito; France

Gaz Bar Blues
Louis Bélanger; Canada

The Gun (From 6 to 7:30 p.m.)
Vladimir Alenikov; U.S.

Io Non Ho Paura (I’m Not Scared)
Gabriele Salvatores; Italy, Spain, U.K.

Le Miracle de Berne (The Miracle of Bern)
Sonke Wortmann; Germany

Panje-e Asr
Samira Makhmalbaf; Iran, France

Les Triplettes de Belleville (Belleville Rendez-vous)
Sylvain Chomet; Canada, France, Belgium

Fairytales & Pornography
Chris Philpott; Canada

Little Brother of War
Damon Vignale; Canada

See Grace Fly
Pete McCormack; Canada

Die Mommie Die
Mark Rucker; U.S

Gus Van Sant; U.S.

Bobby Roth; U.S.

Die Farbe der Seele (The Color of Soul)
Helma Sanders-Brahms; Germany

La Maison du Canal (The House by the Canal)
Alain Berliner; France

S Liuboviu, Lilia (With Love, lilly)
Larisa Sadilova; Russia

Les Enfants Uniques à l’Entrainement Militaire
Huang Wenhai; China

Sexe du Rue (Street Sex)
Richard Boutet; Canada

Tehora (Purity)
Anat Zuria; Israel

Los Debutantes (The Debutants)
Andrés Waissbluth; Chili de l’aîné

India Pravile
Mario Sábato; Argentina

Recuerdos (Remembrance)
Marcela Arteaga; Mexico

Dekada 70
Chito S. Rono; Philippines

Joy of Madness
Hana Makhmalbaf; Iran

Amir Karakulov; Kazakhstan

El Kotbia
Nawfel Saheb-Ettaba; Tunisia, France, Moroccco

The Legend of the Sky Kingdom
Roger Hawkins; Zimbabwe

Mille Mois (A Thousand Months)
Fouazi Bensaidi; Moroccco, France, Belgium

Falling in Love Again
Munro Ferguson; Canada

Legend of the Forest — Special Edition
Tezuka Osamu; Japan

Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey
Luke Cresswell, Steve McNicholas; U.S.

Alexandra’s Project
Rolf de Heer; Australia

For Good
Stuart McKenzie; New Zealand

Martha’s New Coat
Rachel Ward; Australia