Montreal dances to 'Faubourg's' tune

City's world film festival gets under way Thursday

MONTREAL -- The Montreal World Film Festival got off to a tuneful start Thursday night with the world premiere of French director Christophe Barratier's "Faubourg 36" from Pathe Distribution.

Barratier strode up the red carpet to the "Chariots of Fire" theme, to introduce his drama about three Parisian dance hall veterans -- played by Gerard Jugnot, Clovis Cornillac and Kad Merad -- who mount their own show amid a workers' revolt.

Declaring the fest's financial struggles of recent years behind him, festival director Serge Losique praised "Faubourg 36" as representative of "great cinema" and memorable music.

After the Montreal jury -- led by U.S. director Mary Rydell -- was introduced, festival co-director Danielle Cauchard thanked corporate sponsors who have thrown the event a lifeline.

The festival also paid tribute to veteran Hollywood producer Alan Ladd Jr., whose credits include the aforementioned "Chariots."

With Montreal bumping up against Toronto and Venice, the festival as usual snagged few A-list titles, and has just one U.S. film in its competition section: Matthew Wilder's "Your Name Here," the Bill Pullman starrer loosely based on the life of sci-fi writer William J. Frick.

Barratier's opener will compete for the Grand Prix des Ameriques alongside 20 other titles, including Dutch director Arno Dierickx's "Blood Brothers," German helmer Ulla Wagner's "The Invention of Curried Sausage," Goran Markovic's "The Tour" (Serbia) and Spanish filmmaker Manuel Gutierrez Aragon's "Who's Next?"

The highest-profile Canadian films bowing in Montreal are Stephane Gehami's "En Plein Coeur" and Benoit Pilon's "Ce Qu'il Faut Pour Vitre," both from Quebec.