Route 132 is to open the Montreal World Film Festival. (FunFilm)

Montreal's Festival de films du monde (FFM) opens Thursday with Quebec director Louis Bélanger's Route 132.

The bittersweet comedy pairs comedians François Papineau and Alexis Martin as schemers who head out along Highway 132 toward the Lower St. Lawrence with a plan to get rich quick.

Bélanger's first film, Post Mortem, was selected for the official competition at the Montreal World Film Festival in 1999, and his Gaz Bar Blues opened the festival in 2003.

Festival artistic director Serge Losique wants to keep the festival diverse, with films in competition from Japan, Georgia, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Gabon and Trinidad and Tobago.

The lineup of more than 400 films includes just two Canadian features, Bélanger's film and Julie Hivon's Tromper de Silence, a psychological drama starring Suzanne Clément.


Italian actress Stefania Sandrelli is shown receiving the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement in 2005 in Venice. She'll be in Montreal as a director. (Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters)

There is little representation from Hollywood — but Pete Smalls is Dead, a comedy directed by U.S. indie filmmaker Alexandre Rockwell is scheduled for its world premiere.

International fare includes Zingaro Revisited, a history of the Zingaro horse circus, directed by the French equine showman Bartabas and Christine, Cristina, the directorial debut of Italian actor Stefania Sandrelli, known for films such as Divorce Italian Style.

Sandrelli will be presented with the Grand Prize of the Americas for her long and illustrious career, which includes working with Ettore Scola and Vittorio Gassman.

The closing film will be the French historical epic The Princess of Montpensier by Bernard Tavernier, a romance set against the wars of religion between Catholics and Protestants in the 16th century.

The festival runs until Sept. 6.