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Canada’s Quebecor, Elephant Launch Elephant ClassiQ

New standalone classic film fest a sign of further growth in heritage cinema sector

Canadian telco/media giant Quebecor is teaming with Elephant: The Memory of Quebec Cinema, a large-scale, non-profit Quebec movie restoration program, to launch a new event, Elephant ClassiQ, a classic film fest focusing on milestone movies that have marked the history of cinema.

Elephant ClassiQ already existed, but as part of the Montreal World Cinema Fest. Expanded as a standalone event, its inaugural edition will run Nov. 19-22, overseen by Elephant directors Claude Fornier and Marie-Jose Raymond. A team of classic film experts will join them. The new festival will also feature master classes and a distinguished guest list.

Movies will play three theaters in Quebec: the Imperial Cinema, Salle Claude-Jutra at the Quebec Cinematheque, and Salle Pierre-Bourgault at UQAM.

“Repertory films are a fabulous window on the past,” commented Fournier. “They piece together what it means to be human and give us a new take on ourselves. They truly are a kaleidoscope of marvels.”

Elephant ClassiQ will not be North America’s first heritage cinema event: the TCM Classic Film Festival, for example, celebrated its 2015 edition March 26-29 in Los Angeles.

But, while the TCM Fest naturally focuses very largely on Hollywood movies, and Elephant’s restoration drive centers on Quebec movies, Elephant ClassiQ will screen past movies from not only Quebec but also from all over the French-speaking world: France, Belgium, Switzerland and Africa, shown with subtitles in English.

Launching this year, Elephant ClassiQ joins the select ranks of high-profile classic cinema events that also include October’s Grand Lyon Lumière Festival, run by the Institut Lumière’s Bertrand Tavernier and Thierry Fremaux; and Il Cinema Ritrovato, organized by Italy’s Cineteca Bologna, now in its 29th edition, which takes place June 27-July 4.

It was near inevitable maybe that Elephant: The Memory of Quebec Cinema would one day launch a high-profile film event.

Quebecor is proud to help bring our cinema to a wider audience,” said Pierre Dion, president and CEO of Quebecor. “For us, Elephant ClassiQ is another way to make restored, digitized films better known and more accessible — not only movies from Quebec’s cinematic heritage but classic films from the world over.”

A philanthropic nonprofit initiative fully funded by Quebecor, owned by Pierre Karl Peladeau, from which it derives no financial benefit, Elephant suggest an alternative business model for the classic film business that mixes private funding and market-driven economics.

Launched in 2008 by the Montreal’s media giant Quebecor, Elephant has digitized nearly 225 Quebecois pics to date; a further 800 films remain to be eventually restored.

As part of a large telecom, Elpehant has always placed a large emphasis on not only on Quebec heritage movie preservation but also access to and promotion of restored titles via digital technology. Quebec classics can be viewed 24 hours a day, seven days a week on Quebecois cabler Videotron’s TV platform Illico and via atunes, in a partnership which bowed in November 2013, in Canada, the U.S., France and other French or English-speaking countries in Europe and Africa. Theatrical exhibition promotion in an event context has, of course, significant marketing value for the round-the-year Elephant offerings and the cause of classic film in general.

Elephant’s work is being internationally recognized. In 2014, the Cannes Festival invited Elephant to screen a restored copy of Jean-Claude Lauzon’s 1992 young Montrealer tale “Léolo” as part of its Cannes Classics section.

Francis Mankiewicz’s “Les bons debarras” (Good Riddance), a 1979 drama considered a flagship film of both Quebecois and Canadian cinema, which was digitally restored in 2013 by Elephant, screened Oct. 14 in the Splendors of Restoration section at Lyon’s sixth Lumière Festival.

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