Canada's Atlantic FilmFestival (AFF) has reacted with fury to news that the newly-minted FestivalInternational de Films de Montreal (FIFM) has shifted its launch dates to Sept18-25, overlapping the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based event's run of Sept 15-24.

The change in FIFM dates isa black eye for Telefilm Canada, the federal film finance agency, whichprecipitated the creation of the new Montreal event but which also providescore funding to the AFF. The FIFM changed its originally announced launch October 12-23 - because those dates overlap with the Montreal Festival of NewCinema and Video (FNC).

Declaring itself"blindsided", the AFF has called on Telefilm and the FIFM to come up with asolution. The AFF said the date change will have "serious repercussions" interms of availability of prints, media coverage, guest attendance andsponsorship, not to mention its long-term expansion plans. Last year, the AFF presented200 films and videos.

"The lack of consultation isunacceptable," AFF executive director Gregor Ash told, notingthat his event is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2005. "It is asignificant year for us."

While film festivals inSudbury, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta will also feel the impact of competition,the AFF is considered a cornerstone of Telefilm's festival mandate. Indeed, itwas singled out as a success story in the original SECOR report on Canadianfilm festivals, the Telefilm-commissioned report which lead to agency'swithdrawal of funding from the Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF) and theimpetus for the creation of a new event, manifested in FIFM.

For its part Telefilm issueda statement expressing regret over the overlap. The agency pointed out thatFIFM's inaugural outing is not meant to be fixed on the calendar and thatfuture editions of the FIFM will take place in the summer.

Ash said that response isinsulting. "This drama in Montreal has been playing out for some time and tohave the attitude that you can just let this play out for only one year. I findit incredible."

Ash questioned the wisdom oflaunching yet another film festival into the crowded autumn schedule, particularlyfor Montreal: the MWFF (August 26 September 5), FIFM (September 18-25) andFNC (October 12-23). Said Ash, "The FIFM is supposed to be in June or July sowhy this big pressure to have an event in the autumn'"

Ash is meeting with Telefilmexecutive director Wayne Clarkson on Friday.