Losique makes peace with Telefilm, SODEC

The Montreal festival boss has dropped his lawsuits and made nice with the Quebec and federal agencies, ending two years of legal and policy fireworks

World Film Festival founder Serge Losique, SODEC and Telefilm Canada have buried the hatchet.

A spokesman for SODEC on Wednesday said Losique met last week with Jean Chaput, president of the Quebec film funding agency, and shook hands on a new agreement that will see SODEC contribute $220,000 to the 31st edition of the Montreal festival, running Aug. 23 to Sept. 3.

Losique has withdrawn his lawsuits against Telefilm and made a funding application to the federal agency, which is now being considered, according to a Telefilm spokesman.

This ends two years of legal and policy fireworks — sparked when SODEC and Telefilm shifted around $1 million in subsidies from WFF to the ill-fated New Montreal FilmFest in 2005 — and means that the city’s film festival scene is suddenly a lot more boring.

‘All the fighting has been solved. Everything is back to normal,’ insists WFF marketing director Sylvain Gagné.

There was no word on conditions SODEC and Telefilm may have attached to future contributions to WFF. Their feud with Losique in part stemmed from criticism that his film festival, long seen as an essential launching pad for Quebec films, was not financially transparent.

Rock Demers, president of Montreal-based Les Productions la Fête and a longtime Losique supporter, says Losique, who largely funded the 2005 and 2006 WFF editions out of his own pocket, will next month have financing from SODEC, the City of Montreal and sponsors like Loto-Québec and Bell Canada, with Telefilm expected to come on board, as well.

‘Physically, he’s [Losique] in great shape. Psychologically, he’s happy that he has overcome differences with SODEC and Telefilm and that he can move ahead in the good graces of the main funding institutions,’ says Demers.

Also slowly returning to WFF are local distributors that jumped ship to the New Montreal FilmFest in 2005. These include Seville Pictures, which will see its Rémy Girard-starrer Bluff open this year’s event on Aug. 23.

The Americans are also returning, with WFF screening Christopher Cain’s September Dawn, the Black Diamond Pictures drama starring Lolita Davidovich and Jon Voight — who will be in town for a WFF achievement award — The Weinstein Company’s Halloween and Cinemavault’s Scar 3D, both unspooling as part of the new Midnight Slam sidebar.