MONTREAL — Organizers of the troubled New Montreal FilmFest are seeking bankruptcy protection.

Le Regroupement Pour un Festival de Cinema a Montreal has hired bankruptcy specialists Andre Allard et Associes of Montreal to make an arrangement to at least partially pay the suppliers who are still owed money.

Equipe Spectra, which was hired by Regroupement to run the event, is owed more than C$1 million ($883,000) for use of its offices, equipment, services and employees.

The FilmFest shuttered in February after one disastrous edition last September. The event was largely ignored by movie-goers, with most of the films playing to near-empty theaters.

The festival had a budget of approximately $5.3 million, including $1.8 million from various federal, provincial and city departments and agencies.

In December 2004, Telefilm Canada and Quebec film agency Sodec gave the lucrative contract to run a new film festival to Regroupement and Spectra, hoping to replace Serge Losique’s Montreal World Film Festival, which had fallen out of favor with the government agencies.

Quebec Culture Minister Line Beauchamp has ordered an inquiry into how Sodec chose the Regroupement/Spectra bid and federal Heritage Minister Bev Oda also asked Telefilm to report on what went wrong with the film festival. Neither report has been made public.

Regroupement also objected to what it called “the deceitful and slanderous steps taken by (fest program director) Moritz de Hadeln.” There have been reports this week that he is seeking $57,000 he alleges the fest still owes him.

“The board of directors of the Regroupement believes it has fulfilled all of the contractual obligations to De Hadeln & Partners and considers the case closed,” according to a statement.