Dino De Laurentiis will be the chairman and keynote speaker at the Montreal World Film Festival's annual industry forum, the Film Market Conference.

The producer of films ranging from Serpico and Barbarella to the ongoing Hannibal Lecter franchise is seen an apt speaker for the French-Canadian event due to his experience within the studio system and as a film-maker in Italy. Held August 27 and 28 while the festival runs August 23 to September 3, the conference aims to address the struggle of Canadian companies in the face of Hollywood.

"[De Laurentiis] had to leave Italy because he had a problem hiring foreign crews, so he was a victim of protectionism at home,' said festival spokesperson Henry Welsh. 'But he also knows what it's like to be an outsider in Hollywood and yet learn how to work the Hollywood system."

The presence of the legendary producer is sure to be a lure to other high-profile names for the festival's 25th anniversary celebration. De Laurentiis received his first Academy Award in 1957 when Federico Fellini's La Strada won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The following year he won the same prize for Fellini's Nights Of Cabiria. His most recent productions include Hannibal and U-571.

Festival chief Serge Losique said: "I am very proud that Dino De Laurentiis, a master showman who at 81 is still producing hit movies, recipient of the prestigious Oscar 2001 Irving G Thalberg Award for a lifetime of film excellence, agreed to attend this conference."