With the ink barely dry on his contract,Moritz De Hadeln, the new director of programming of the newly-launchedFestival Internationale du Films de Montreal (FIFM), has already come underfire from rival festival supremo Serge Losique's Montreal World Film Festival(MWFF).
On Wednesday, the MWFF issued aterse one-page press release warning the new event that the names "Festival International du Film de Montreal" and "MontrealInternational Film Festival" were out of bounds. De Hadeln's FIFM is referringto itself in English as the New Montreal FilmFest.
It also suggested that De Hadeln left thetop job at the Berlin and Venice festivals amid controversy and had offered hisservices to "the Ayatollahs of Teheran" - meaning the Teheran Film Festival.
It also stated that the fee - $650,000,although this has not been confirmed -- being paid to De Hadeln's company DeHadeln Partners is an outrageous sum given the brevity of the contract and theavailability of qualified persons in Quebec and Canada. The letter concludes,"It is folly to think that Mr. De Halden [sic] will be able to organize anotherfestival superior to the MWFF."
Reached in Berlin, DeHadeln told ScreenDaily.com, "We don't want toget into a polemic with Serge Losique. The whole thing is very sad." As to thereference to the Teheran festival, De Hadeln joked, "I was working with AlQaeda." He added, "It's bloody ridiculous. I was once chairman of theinternational jury there and I haven't had any contact since." He refused tocomment on the fee but Alain Simard, president of the new festival, said the contract was for four and a half years.
In a separate press release issued Thursdaymorning, De Hadeln said the MWFF statement was unworthy of Losique and hisfestival. "His bitterness does not justify such calumny."
Meanwhile, the FIFMwent ahead with its inaugural press conference on Thursday morning in Montreal,with the official announcement of De Hadeln's appointment and that of his wifeand business partner Erika De Hadeln as assistant director.
The first edition ofthe festival will be held October 12-23, 2005, contiguous with the MontrealFestival of New Cinema, whose principal backer, Daniel Langlois sits on the newfestival's board of directors. Simard, CEO and founder of Equipe Spectra, the entertainment conglomerate, which along with Langlois, submitted the winning bid for the new festival, will be the president of the festival for at least the first year.
The new festival alsoannounced its selection team. Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Lea Pool; Jean Lefebvre,a former Telefilm Canada executive and international film festival specialist;Robert Meunier, a repertory cinema programmer; author and film consultant AndrePaquet, an authority on Latin American cinema; Danny Lemmon, a short filmspecialist. Two other persons will be named at a later date.
The festival alsoannounced the names of some of its international film scouts and their mandatedareas.
-filmmaker Christel Buschmann (Germanyand Austria).
-Asian filmspecialist and international publicist Norman Wang (China and Southeast Asia).
-film historian andcritic Hans-Joachim Schiegel (Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia).
-filmjournalist Oscar Larussi and film critic Sylvio Danese (Italy)
-filmpublicist Al Newman (Hollywood)
Talks are underway to fill positions inFrance, Spain and New York.