Montreal film festival employees resign en masse

On Monday, a group of employees working for the Festival des films du monde resigned, partially blaming president Serge Losique's leadership for their departure.

Financial uncertainty, poor leadership blamed in letter penned by employees

Serge Losique started Montreal's Festival des films du monde in 1977. On Monday, a group of employees working for the festival resigned, blaming his leadership for their departure. (Paul Chaisson/Canadian Press)

Days before the opening of Montreal's World Film Festival, most of its employees have resigned.

In a letter to the Journal de Montreal, the employees say "the financial uncertainty of the festival and the inability to firm up infrastructure reservations or to honour agreements" were among the issues that factored into their decision.

They added they can't support "incompetent leadership," specifically mentioning festival president and founder Serge Losique.

Losique said only a few people quit.

"It was absolutely not the whole team [that left]," he said. "It's defamation. I've dealt with defamation my whole life. I can't comment on this," he said, adding that the festival will go on as scheduled. 

The 40th edition of the World Film Festival is slated to begin Thursday with a showing of Embrasse-moi comme tu m'aimes, directed by André Forcier. The film's distributor confirmed to Radio-Canada on Tuesday that the showing will go on as planned.

Last year, another group of employees hired to work at the festival said they weren't paid on time.

Two of those employees went to the province's labour standards board to settle their cases.

For years, the Montreal World Film Festival billed itself as the only competitive film festival in North America accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF).

But since the decision by American producers to use the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to launch their fall films, the World Film Festival has lost notoriety and the business side of the festival has suffered.

Montreal's World Film Festival runs until Sept. 5.