Funder wavers over Canuck FilmFest

Clarkson considers whether to fund fest again

MONTREAL — Film funder Telefilm Canada executive director Wayne Clarkson said Friday there was no guarantee that it would finance the troubled New Montreal FilmFest next year.

The festival was set up this year by Telefilm and Quebec film agency Sodec in an attempt to replace Serge Losique’s Montreal World Film Festival. But last month’s first edition of the FilmFest was a bust, with pics playing to near-empty cinemas and program director Moritz de Hadeln openly warring with fest prexy Alain Simard.

“It’s premature to make a decision,” said Clarkson. “They’ll have to give us performance measurements. That’s true of all film festivals. They’ll have to apply for next year.”

Clarkson spoke to journalists after a speech to the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, during which he criticized certain aspects of the FilmFest.

“The selection of films needs to be improved,” said Clarkson. “There has to be a mix of world premieres and the best films of other major film festivals.”

De Hadeln wanted world preems for the festival but had trouble snaring A-list titles, and the lackluster programming was one reason ticket sales were so poor. Clarkson also suggested the fest should have cut ticket prices.

But the Telefilm boss said there is no question of returning funds to Losique’s festival, which managed to stage an edition in August despite losing C$2 million ($1.7 million) in government coin.

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