Montreal Film Fest Takes a Break – Updated
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher*
(July 23, 2019 – Toronto, ON) It was a quick call from Northernstars’ Montreal-based contributor Maurie Alioff letting me know the city’s once renowned film festival would not be held this year. As he put it, the festival’s founder, Serge Losique, now 88 years old (pictured), had issued a release saying he “needed a break.”
Reactions to the suspension of the World Film Festival range from hand-rubbing glee to onetime and longtime WFF publicist Suzanne Villeneuve’s concern for Losique’s health. “Losique is at the edge of his 90th birthday,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “I only wish that his health problems are not serious.”
Villeneuve added in another posting, “Yeah, my relationship with Losique was fraught with times of arguments and anger and epic screaming matches. But after the drama, the rebellion, the fights, we always found a way back to respect and laughter. I was privileged to endure Serge Losique for many years. I love and care for this man.”
Marcel Jean, director general of the Cinémathèque québécois, told a reporter the announcement was not a surprise, and yet was a surprise because Losique always managed to put on his August festival.
There has been no comment from Quebec’s Ministry of Culture or SOEDC (Société de développement des entreprises culturelles du Québec). SODEC and Serge Losique will be facing off in court this November over monetary issues.
The festival would have held its 43rd edition beginning August 23. The release stated the festival would return with “a great edition in 2020.” Its problems began in 2014 when the City of Montreal, SODEC and Telefilm withdrew their funding. According to the release, no films were selected for this year’s festival.
*With files from Maurie Alioff in Montreal.