New Montreal Fest Moves Inaugural Event to September; News Angers 25 Year Old Atlantic Film Festival
by Eugene Hernandez
The new Festival International de Films de Montreal (FIFM) continues to ruffle feathers in Canada. Organizers of the new Montreal festival confirmed that the event has moved its dates to September, after frustrating organizers of the annual Montreal Festival de Nouveau Cinema. FIFM was set to compete with the Nouveau Cinema event, but now will run from September 18-25, kicking off the day after the Toronto International Film Festival closes. The move, however, has angered organizers of the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia who say they have were blindsided by the decision as they prepare for their 25th anniversary.
"This is unacceptable," said Gregor Ash, Executive Director of the Atlantic Film Festival, at a press conference in Halifax Tuesday. "It is a significant year for us and the overall lack of consultation with key parties is a disappointment and a serious concern. We were also surprised by Telefilm Canada's apparent endorsement of the new dates."
FIFM spokesperson Myriam Achard told indieWIRE Tuesday that next year the event will move to the summer and said that her event hopes to find a way to work with the Atlantic Film Festival. Atlantic Film Festival organizers said that they would continue talks with the festivals involved and Telefilm Canada to try to come to a solution.
"We also hope that this will reinvigorate the conversation about the role of Canadian festivals particularly given the current mandate to expand indigenous box office," the Atlantic Film Festival said in its statement.
"The schedule of festivals in Montreal is very tight," Achard told indieWIRE, adding that there were concerns about keeping the event in October as originally announced. Regarding the conflict with the Atlantic Film Festival, she added, "We have been talking to them since last week, we want to find a solution, we want to be able to work with them to collaborate." But she added, "How this collaboration will take place, we still don't know exactly."
"We have a serious responsibility to our stakeholders, constituents and sponsors," said Bill Niven, Chair of the Atlantic Film Festival Association Board of Directors. "It is imperative that we find a solution to this situation."
Moritz de Hadeln was named artistic director for this first year event, billing itself as "The New Montreal FilmFest." The FIFM is trying to top the beleaguered Montreal World Film Festival which faced numerous criticisms, mainly from government sponsors such as Telefilm Canada, which had been at odds with Montreal World Film Fest head Serge Losique and withdrew funding from his event. The Montreal World event is set to run from August 26 - September 5th.
Organizers of the FIFM announced that the event would present a total of 10 Iris awards, the name taken from the official flower of Quebec. Plans also include an annual prize honoring the career of a film personality, as well as audience awards and a prize for best Canadian film.
"Now that this page has been turned, it's time to join forces and herald the arrival of a major international festival that will become both a forum for the exchange of ideas and a springboard for Quebec creativity," said filmmaker Robert Lepage, a new member of the FIFM board of governors, optimistically in a statement.