Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The MWFF in jeopardy

We are continuing our coverage of the festival

The Montreal World Film Festival has received two blows that will most likely prevent it from happening.

First, Tuesday, a large part of the permanent staff has resigned and explained their decision with this press release:
“It is with deep sadness that the majority of the team behind the festival has decided to stop taking part in the organization of the 40th edition due to an unknown financial situation and the impossibility to secure any festival infrastructure or honor any festival reservation. The team has worked tirelessly in order to find a solution but this close to the festival has decided to no longer stand behind a failing management . We believe in films and we wish you the very best to come.”

Then just one day before the beginning of the festival, Wednesday, Cineplex, which was supposed to provide one of the main festival venues for the projections (the Cineplex Forum), withdrew from the event. They said: “because of financial, timing and operational concerns with the festival itself, we had to make the difficult decision to not partner with them this year”. Most of the regular programming of the festival was to be held at the Cineplex Forum.

In an interview, Serge Losique, the festival founder, said that he had still high hope that they would be able to sign an agreement with Cineplex, and that, in any case, all events and projections scheduled for the Cinema Imperial (premieres, screenings for competition movies, big guests like Dafoe or Adjani) will happen as planned. The tickets for those screenings are already on sale.

I must admit that I am very disappointed. This is a sad and unfortunate situation for which all parties are to blame: it is due as much because of the stubbornness of the festival founder, Serge Losique (who wanted to stay on to celebrate the 40th anniversary but should have resigned and pass the helm of the festival to a younger director a while ago), as of the punitive decision from all level of governments not to provide any subsidies to the festival (because they were not satisfied with the transparency of its public funds management). Everybody should have made better efforts to resolve the situation. Let's give this festival a chance please !

In the end, the real losers here are the city of Montreal's reputation and the movie fans who will be deprived of a good occasion to view a great variety of films from all over the world.

Let's hope that a miracle will save the festival so it could still be held in its entirety. But unfortunately, at this point, I don't have much hope.


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