Montreal refuses to play with other fests

Fall Fest Preview 2012

Change may be coming to the Montreal fest scene. Last fall Francois Macerola, president of Quebec film-funding agency Sodec, proposed that the city’s three main film festivals — the Montreal World Film Festival, Fantasia and the Festival du Nouveau Cinema — should begin collaborating more.

Macerola’s idea is not to merge the festivals but rather for the three to work more closely together to create a kind of rolling film festival that would go from July 19, which is when Fantasia kicks off, to Oct. 10, which is when the Festival du Nouveau Cinema unfolds. The Montreal World Film Festival would fall in the middle of this festival of festivals, Aug. 23-Sept. 3.

Both the World Film Festival and the FNC are general-interest auteur gatherings. Fantasia is a genre and fantasy sprocket opera with a big focus on Asian cinema.

There is, however, one hiccup in Macerola’s plan. Montreal World topper Serge Losique has rejected the call for cooperation and is going his own way, as is his wont.

Macerola says he won’t punish Montreal financially for not participating but he did note that Losique’s event is “missing a great chance to progress.”

So it’s unclear what the future holds for the area fest troika.

Federal film-funding agency Telefilm Canada will be re-evaluating the country’s three biggest film festivals — Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver — this year and Telefilm exec director Carolle Brabant admits there are some issues with Losique’s festival.

“Is there room for improvement?” asks Brabant. “For sure. People in Montreal like their festivals. They like the Montreal Jazz Festival and they used to like going to the (Montreal) World Film Festival. One thing that we can say is that the audience has gone down for the World Film Festival.”

Sodec spokeswoman Isabelle Melancon says the three festivals could pool resources, for example having a common box office or hooking up with one major sponsor. Already Sodec gives almost the same amount of money to the FNC and Montreal World. The FNC gets $290,000 from Sodec and the Quebec Ministry of Culture while Montreal World takes in $325,000 from Sodec and the provincial minister of culture. Fantasia receives much less coin from Quebec and Canada overall. It receives $120,000 from Sodec and the Quebec Ministry of Culture, plus $90,000 from Telefilm.

Telefilm gives Montreal $328,000 and the FNC $183,000.

Ironically, while Fantasia carries as much international clout as the other two and likely rivals Montreal in attendance, it nabs considerably less public cash.

“It would be nice if the festivals were funded in a more equitable fashion, based on how the festivals actually perform,” says Fantasia president Pierre Corbeil. “What I like about Macerola’s process is that he’s calling everything into question.”

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