Montreal Film Fest Exec Slams Quebec Film Financier for 'Personal Vendetta'

The highly personal attack follows SODEC pulling taxpayer support for the world cinema showcase long in the shadow of Toronto and its Hollywood star wattage.

TORONTO – Despite for years being vastly over-shadowed by the Toronto International Film Festival, the rival Montreal World Film Festival (FFM) is still alive and kicking its critics.

Top Quebec filmmakers on Monday denounced FFM vp Daniele Cauchard for accusing Monique Simard, the province's top film financier, of treachery against her event.

"I accuse Monique Simard of using public funds for her personal vendetta … to sabotage the FFM," Cauchard said in an open letter published in the La Presse newspaper.

Simard is president and CEO of Societe de developpement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), Quebec's film funding agency.

Few Quebec movies or TV shows get financed without SODEC investment.

And Simard has now drawn Cauchard's anger for deciding not to subsidize FFM's upcoming 2014 edition, even though other funders like the City of Montreal, Telefilm Canada and Lotto Quebec have done likewise.

Simard told La Presse that Cauchard aimed to "intimidate" anyone who criticized the FFM.

The fallout from the La Presse attack on Monday included the resignation of long-time FFM communications director Henry Welsh, and a defense of Simard by top Quebec film directors and producers.

"Without interfering in the working relationship between the Montreal World Film Festival and various funding cultural organizations, we want to stand up against us personal attacks made by Danielle Cauchard vis-à-vis the president and CEO of the SODEC, Monique Simard in a public letter of 15 July," directors including Anne Emond, Philippe Falardeau, Kim Nguyen, Manon Briand and Guy Edoin said in a joint statement.

Monday's public war of words ended a long-standing truce between Serge Losique's FFM and various government funders after SODEC, Telefilm Canada and other industry players in 2005 diverted taxpayer dollars and local films to the short-lived New Montreal FilmFest.

Losique's FFM has also suffered in recent years as Quebec distributors have chosen the Toronto International Film Festival as a preferred launch pad for top-tier Quebec movies.