The Glorious, over 40-Year History of the Festival du nouveau cinéma
It all begins. Two film fanatics, Claude Chamberlan and Dimitri Eipidès, determined to provide a space for films lacking distribution, come up with the crazy idea of starting a festival. Gallons of sweat later, the first screening (in 16 mm) of the Festival International du Cinéma takes place on October 26 at the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Werner Schroeter is in attendance, and the Festival is already showing its originality, presenting experimental cinema, Peter Watkins’ shocking Punishment Park, Frederick Wiseman’s transcendent Hospital and Even Dwarfs Started Small by Werner Herzog!
Up, up and away. After moving into its very own space, the Cinéma Parallèle, the Festival changes its name to the Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal. With great pleasure, it presents exciting new 35-mm works by a roster of directors that includes Raúl Ruiz, John Cassavetes, Pedro Almodóvar, François Girard and Jean-Luc Godard.
The magical year. The previous year, the Festival hosted the legendary Marguerite Duras. Quite a coup! But that was just a foretaste of the fine vintage known as the 11th edition. Some of the biggest names in international film? Duras, Forcier, Wenders, Schroeter, Morrissey, Groulx, Van der Keuken, Blank, Snow, Straub and Huillet and Akerman? converge on Montreal. And a new section devoted to a cutting-edge form of expression, video, was added. On a side note, the Festival introduces a little 31-minute short called Stranger Than Paradise... Encouraged by the Montreal audience response, director Jim Jarmusch extends the film to feature length and wins the Golden Camera at Cannes the following year!
Twenty wonderful years. The Festival turns 20, the age when anything is possible. Rejecting all compartments and barriers, the Festival incorporates innovative television productions into its lineup, screening episodes of The Prisoner in 35 mm and the first two episodes of Twin Peaks by a certain David Lynch! And since the year is all about big events, the unforgettable documentary Hearts of Darkness wins the grand prize!
A new home. For two years, Daniel Langlois has been the chairman of the Festival’s board of directors. Under his direction, new media becomes a more prominent part of the event. In 1999, this development finds concrete expression in a unique, innovative space: the Ex-Centris complex with its exceptional-quality screening rooms and exhibition spaces. The Festival now has a brand new home and takes the opportunity to introduce what will become its emblem: the Louve d’Or, awarded to the best film of the year. In its first year, the award goes to Claire Denis for her memorable Beau Travail.
Thirty years old and not a wrinkle! Publishing a richly illustrated book and putting together a stunningly lavish and diverse lineup, the Festival goes all out to throw itself a 30th anniversary party to remember. For the occasion, Wim Wenders shows up to drink a toast with festivalgoers!
Long live cinema in all its forms! After much-noted appearances by Gena Rowlands and Peter Greenaway, the Festival establishes its identity. Now known as the Festival du nouveau cinéma, it includes no fewer than 24 world premieres and 23 North American previews in its lineup. We also launch a new section, Temps Zéro, further blasting through the boundaries between different forms of cinema!
Think big. The reputation of the Festival du nouveau cinéma is now rock-solid. As proof, all the big names are here ? Jacques Audiard, Laurent Cantet, Robert Morin, Atom Egoyan, Robert Guédiguian, Kenneth Anger, John Boorman, Jacques Doillon and Abdellatif Kechiche. For a few years now, the Festival has hosted a high-powered professional section, Open Source, as well as its new Focus Québec/Canada section. Continuing its momentum, the Festival, with Quebecor as its official sponsor, moves into the Agora Hydro-Québec at UQÀM’s Coeur des sciences. The heart of the Festival? the ticket office, parties, events, meeting places and activities? now beats in this festive and welcoming new space.
Back to the future! The Festival du nouveau cinéma celebrates its 40th anniversary with Wim Wenders, Amos Gitai, Valérie Donzelli, Romain Gavras, Philippe Falardeau, Bertrand Bonello, Tran Anh Hung... The Festival wins the Conseil des arts de Montréal Grand Prize!
We expand ! The Festival du nouveau cinéma finds new locations, among them the Outremont Theatre where Les P'tits Loups are now concentrated, and the PHI Center where the FNC Pro converges. William Klein attends the Festival for a retrospective, and the long-awaited Life of Pi by Ang Lee is presented in 3D at Scotia Bank Cineplex! It's also the year of a first mutual retrospective with Fantasia Festival, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Japanese production company, Nikkatsu.