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On with the show
Anna Karina at the Montreal World Fest
Related Links

Montreal World Film Festival's official Web site

Gerald Perry reviews the 2004 Montreal World Film Festival.

Jeffrey Gantz reviews Anna Karina's Une histoire d’amour.

Jeffrey Gantz reviews Une femme est une femme.

They thought they’d stopped him when government funders withdrew $2 million from Serge Losique’s Montreal World Film Festival, August 26–September 5, and swung support to the virginal (and unproven) New Montreal FilmFest just behind it, September 18-25. Would Losique, who’s been squabbling with federal and provincial bureaucrats for years, biting the handouts that feed him, go peaceably this time?

Not a chance. Even with a much-shriveled budget, he offered 130 feature films from 70 countries and brought in a showcase Official Jury presided over Greek cinéaste Theo Angelopoulos. Meanwhile, he’s filed suit against those government funders. He also hopes to close down the upstart New Montreal FilmFest, which is headed up by former Berlin Film Festival director Moritz de Hadeln.

"Will there be a 30th Montreal World Fest?", I asked Losique as he entered an elevator. "Yes!" he shouted out, pumping my hand. "I will announce it at my press conference!" Well, I hope there’s a 30th next August. It was here that I saw the North American premieres of Blue Velvet and Crocodile Dundee. It was here that I interviewed the late Akira Kurosawa star Toshiro Mifune.

The Montreal World Fest has always had a strong Parisian presence. Last week, I sat down for a glass of wine with juror Anna Karina, glorious icon of the 1960s French New Wave, who starred in a string of masterpieces directed by her then-husband Jean-Luc Godard including Une femme est une femme|A Woman Is a Woman, Vivre sa vie|My Life To Live, Alphaville, and Pierrot le fou.

"Are you in contact with Godard?" I asked. According to a Godard bio, their artistic relationship was stormy, and he was abusive to his actress muse. The divorce seemed inevitable. Surprise! Karina said really nice things about her former husband and director. "We’re very far physically. Jean-Luc lives in Switzerland and I in Paris, but we remain very close." At screenings around the globe of their collaborative works, the outgoing Karina often appears as spokesperson, with the reclusive Godard’s blessing. They don’t meet. "Anne-Marie is very jealous," she said of filmmaker Anne-Marie Miéville, with whom Godard has lived and worked since 1971. Karina shook her head, not understanding. "To be with someone, one must accept the past."

She launched into an amusing story about the beginnings of the influential film journal Cahiers du Cinéma, for which Godard, Eric Rohmer, and François Truffaut were contributors. The first issue of 500 copies was placed in kiosks about Paris and immediately sold out. Likewise issue #2 of 1000 copies. With 2000 issues of #3 on the stands, a triumphant Eric Rohmer came knocking at Godard’s door. Inside Godard’s flat were all the copies of issues #1 and #2: he was the one who’d bought them! "Rohmer was so mad," Karina laughed, "but that’s what gave Cahiers du Cinéma confidence to go on."

A compassionate, funny Godard? When I’ve seen him over the years, he’s often seemed a stern, imposing figure, and he’s now a hardly grandfatherly 74. "Did Godard have a good heart?" I asked Karina. "He has a good heart," she corrected me. "He isn’t dead yet."

Issue Date: September 9 - 15, 2005
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