Magazine article Screen International

Montreal World Film Festival Head Hits Back over Reports of Staff Resignations

Magazine article Screen International

Montreal World Film Festival Head Hits Back over Reports of Staff Resignations

Article excerpt

"It has nothing to do with the staffof the festival," Serge Losique, who founded the Montreal World Film Festival in 1976, told Screen International on Friday. "It's slandering [sic] and they will answer to that."

The festival president flatly denied that any member of his staffhad left, despite an open letter in Le Journal de Montreal this week in which staffsaid their resignations were motivated by what they claimed was financial instability at the festival.

In an emotional call to Screen in which he sounded irate and frustrated, Losique appeared to concede that there has been turnover of some volunteers and agency workers hired on short-term contracts, but added this was not the same issue.

"These people [volunteers and agency workers] know nothing about or finances," he said. "When you have someone cleaning carpets you don't tell them about your financial matters."

Losique insisted the festival had begun well on Thursday when he said André Forcier's Embrasse-Moi Comme Tu M'aimes sparked a 20-minute standing ovation.

As to the matter of the Cineplex chain withdrawing its support this year due to what it described to CBC as "financial, timing and operational concerns", Losique declined to go into details but expressed confidence he would find replacement venues over the weekend.

A termination of a partnership with the Hyatt, he said, was nothing out of the ordinary. "I change hotels many times."

Overall Losique insisted the Montreal World Film Festival was in rude health, even though Telfilm Canada pulled its suport from the event in 2014 and last year employees threatened to leave over unpaid salaries.

"The situation is as good as any other big festival," said Losique. "We're trying to find money like everybody else, but the festival has existed for 40 years and will exist for another 40 years."

EARLIER REPORT: The Montreal World Film Festival (Aug 25 - Sept 5) is facing a rocky start to its 40th edition following last-minute staffresignations and a key venue cancellation.

According to local reports, a large group of the festival's full-time employees announced their resignation in an open letter sent to Le Journal de Montreal this week, citing financial uncertainty over the event as their prime motivation.

In another blow to the festival, the Cineplex movie theatre chain is withdrawing from the 40th edition due to "financial, timing and operational concerns". …

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