film festival tourism

Montreal

The Montreal World Film Festival

Fest director Serge Losique on the red carpet

Fest director Serge Losique on the red carpet

The Montreal festival offers a range of films of varying quality in a cosmopolitan French-Canadian city. This festival has seen its share of controversy over the years, and some believe its founder and head Serge Losique has steered the event in an untenable direction, pushing for world premieres even though Montreal lacks the muscle to command top titles. “The festival’s best years are in the past,” local journalist Odile Tremblay recently commented. “Losique is living in the past, and it is unlikely he will change.

Festival Website: http://www.ffm-montreal.org/en_index.html

Timing: Eleven days at the end of August-beginning of September.

Dates for 2009: August 27-September 7

Programming

Fest founder Serge Losique programs a broad range of international films with an emphasis on Quebeçois movies, Francophone cinema, and first films. World premieres are especially sought. Many, many films are shown. Beware of French language films with no English subtitles; these are indicated on the festival program by a tiny “stf” notation, which means “subtitles français.”

Special Guests

Some Canadian moviemakers attend with their films. The festival invites other notables to serve on its jury. Brian de Palma has been a frequent guest.

Audience: The festival has developed a loyal following of locals.

Screening Venues

The Cinéma Quartier Latin, where most films are screened, is showing its age. Opening and closing nights are held at the Maisonneuve Theater in the Place des Arts, an enormous, elegant space and quite new. The Visa Screening Room is also large, though older.

Screening Schedule

Movies begin at 9am and continue until late into the evening. As many as twelve titles run simultaneously.

Tickets

About $10 each. Passes and coupon books are also available. Films rarely sell out.

Program Notes

The festival puts out a large program book with notes in English and French. These tend to be short on information, partly because there are so many titles to include.

Surroundings

Montreal is famously French, which means stylish boutiques and excellent restaurants. The city’s old quarter, in particular, is worth checking out.

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Accommodations

The Hyatt Regency is the official festival hotel and is the most convenient to all the fest activity. The hotel is part of a large mall, which contains numerous coffee shops and the like. 1255 Jeanne-Mance, PO Box 130,Montreal, Quebec, Canada H5B 1E5. (514) 982 1234. http://montreal.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp

Getting Around

You can easily walk to all the venues if you stay at the Hyatt as I did. The Cinéma Quartier Latin is next to a funky neighborhood where young street people hang out. If you’re nervous about safety and want to walk back to the Hyatt at night (about a half a mile), get a companion to go with you.

Excursions

Boutique-filled Old Montreal, pictured above, is a charming quarter to walk around in. It’s about a half a mile from the Hyatt.

Mood Movies: Films set in Montreal you might want to watch before you go.

  • The Decline of the American Empire. Premier French Canadian director Denis Arcand traces the misadventures of a group of French academics in this engrossing 1986 talkfest.

  • Paper Wedding. French-Canadian star Geneviève Bujold plays a professor roped into a green card marriage with a Latin American political refugee in this 1989 release directed by Michel Brault.

THE FESTIVAL YEAR BY YEAR

2006

2006 Program Book

2006 Program Book

Best Films I Saw:

  • Somewhere Too Far. Another Iranian study of impoverished people with noble souls carried out in the inimitably painstaking manner that has made this national cinema world-famous. Directed by Khroso Masousimi.

  • Scream of the Ants. Never one to do things by halves, Iranian master Mohsen Makhmalbaf here offers something to offend adherents of every religion—especially Hindus. But this meditation on the problem of evil in the world filmed mostly in Benares, India is shot through with inventive riffs that revel in the connection between the sensations of life and the senses of cinema.
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