MWFF at peace with SODEC, Telefilm Canada

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TORONTO — The embattled Montreal World Film Festival appears set to regain its financial footing after settling a long-running battle with two key government agencies that had threatened its viability.

“All the fighting has been solved. Everything is back to normal,” MWFF marketing director Sylvain Gagne said Wednesday of the peace that festival founder Serge Losique has achieved with Quebec film financier SODEC and its federal counterpart, Telefilm Canada.

A spokesman for SODEC said the agency will give provide CAN$220,000 ($210,000) in operating funds for the MWFF’s upcoming 31st edition, a move that follows a meeting last week between Losique and SODEC president Jean Chaput.

Meanwhile, a Telefilm Canada spokesman said that, while no agreement has yet been reached, the federal agency is considering a funding application from the MWFF for its Aug. 23-Sept. 3 run.

In 2005, SODEC and Telefilm Canada shifted about CAN$1 million ($950,000) in subsidies from the Montreal World Film Festival to fledgling competitor the New Montreal Filmfest.

That move prompted a flurry of lawsuits from Losique, who charged that Telefilm Canada and the New Montreal Filmfest were attempting to put the Montreal World Film Festival out of business.

In the end, the 2005 New Montreal Filmfest was a bust, and Losique managed to stage the 2005 and 2006 installments of his festival without government subsidies and largely on his own resources.

With the lawsuits now withdrawn and SODEC and Telefilm Canada back on board, new life has been breathed into Losique’s festival, according to his supporters.

“(Losique’s) coming back. I don’t think he’s receiving enough from SODEC and Telefilm Canada, given the importance of his festival, but at least the door is open,” said Rock Demers, the veteran Canadian film producer and president of Montreal-based Les Productions la Fete.
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