Red carpet and Opening ceremony
This year the Festival des Films du Monde (FFM or MWFF, Montreal World Film Festival) strangely seems slightly more organized (at least for the accreditation) than the previous couples of years. They are probably getting used to extreme austerity and benefits from plenty of movie aficionado volunteers. Also, there’s more Japanese movies than last year (but still less than the usual dozen). Unfortunately, since there are only four screens (Cinéma Impérial and Quartier Latin 10, 12 & 13) to show ALL movies, they are shown only once (twice for the titles in competition) and mostly in the afternoon — which is not compatible with my own schedule, so I’ll probably end up viewing only half of the Japanese movies. Too bad, but that’s better than nothing!
However, I was happy that the title selected as opening film was one of the Japanese movies: Samurai’s Promise. No one from the cast or crew was present for the opening ceremony, although there was plenty of actors & actresses from other Japanese and Chinese movies (as well as local dignitaries) parading on the red carpet.
Red carpet photo gallery
The only speech was given by the president of the festival, Serge Losique. He seemed tired, but still defiant (although slightly apologetic):
“The festival is a great cathedral open to all. Our role was not to imitate whoever but to be ourselves, to be authentic. (…) Our role was also to helped small unknown countries, like Cape Verde or Sri Lanka [to promote their films]. All we want is for the public, and the journalists, to appreciate the films.”
He continues saying he doesn’t want the glamour of the other festivals but only to showcase the diversity of the world cinema. That’s why it is the “Festival des Films du Monde” [also a word-play in French meaning the festival of the people]. People are asking for stars, he says, but the stars here are the films. He also argues that the directors and actors who come to Montreal are stars in their own countries, and many more have been discovered here, at the festival, and are now stars! [I might add that I’ve seen plenty of great stars at the FFM over the years: Catherine Deneuve, Sofia Loren, Jackie Chan, Robert de Niro, Tony Curtis, Mamoru Oshii, etc.]
He also announces the new policy for the festival to chose as president of the jury a director that has previously won the Grand Prix of the Americas. Also the jury members will not necessarily be present at the festival but will screen the titles in competition via video link (although the president of the jury will always be present in Montreal). He introduces the members of this year’s jury (critic Élie Castiel, Pierre-Henri Deleau, an executive from China Film Group Corporation and another jury whose name will be revealed at the end of the festival) as well as its president, Silvio Caiozzi [Chilean director, winner of last year’s Grand Prix des Amériques], who also said a few words:
“From the beginning this festival always chose nothing but films of cinematographic excellence. Nowadays, I can feel that around the world somehow (…) [in the movie industry] the true quality of films is not looked upon, really. What they look upon is (…) what film has the big budget (…) or the politics (…) but not really the quality of the films. So, really, honestly, (…) in my opinion this is perhaps the only festival that still remains absolutely independant.”
Opening ceremony video
(I understand what Serge Losique is saying here. He is trying to explain and justify his position. The festival is his life-work, his baby, and he doesn’t want to relinquish its control. Indeed, if you accept public money you have to show transparency and do things the way the government wants them to be done… Unfortunately, if he doesn’t step down, pass the mantle to someone else soon (while maybe remaining on board as advisor), the festival will die with him…)
The theatre was not full, like we’ve seen for previous years, but considering the situation, it was full enough (maybe half?). Surprisingly, there was not that many people from the local Japanese community.
It was a short ceremony, a good movie (see my separate comment), the weather was nice, Radio-Canada / CBC was there to report on the event so, all in all, it was a good day for the festival.
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