How Montreal's Festival du nouveau cinéma secured Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve’s film screens tonight at independent festival he says is 'close to my heart'
When Denis Villeneuve learned his sequel to neo-noir and sci-fi film Blade Runner would be released at the same time that the Festival du nouveau cinéma was running, he fought to bring the movie back to his home province.
"I was stubborn," the Quebec director said. "I pushed hard to get it."
Blade Runner 2049 is being screened at Montreal's independent festival tonight, a day after the follow-up to Ridley Scott's 1982 original premiered in Los Angeles.
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The Festival du nouveau cinéma prides itself on having brought low-key, artistically driven films from around the world to Montrealers since the 1970s.
It also served as a launch pad for Villeneuve's early films, helping to elevate the director from Quebec's niche cinema scene to the lofty place he now occupies in Hollywood.
"It's a film festival that's very close to my heart and participated in a lot of my cinema education," said Villeneuve.
Putting Montreal on the map
At first, Villeneuve reluctantly accepted that his version of Blade Runner would not be shown at any film festival, from TIFF to Venice.
"It was forbidden, it's a 'no,'" he said, referring to the studio. "That was a battle I lost."
While Villeneuve didn't divulge how long it took to bring his film home nor the nature of negotiations, the festival's director admitted it took several months, beginning last April.
"It was a lot of ping-pong with the studio, with Denis," Nicolas Girard Deltruc told The Canadian Press. "I think the festival is very important for him."
As a result of Villeneuve's steadfast resolve, the Festival du nouveau cinéma is the only film festival in the world that was granted authorization to screen the highly anticipated Blade Runner.
Arthouse qualities in a blockbuster world
While his latest work is a mega-production complete with a star-studded cast, Villeneuve is confident it will fit right in at the fesitval.
He's also called it his best film yet.
"Honestly, it's an honour for me to present my movie there because it's really a film festival that's designed for art-house," he said. "And I like to think that my movie has some art-house qualities — even in the blockbuster world."
"It's the kind of cinema that inspires me as a filmmaker so I owe them a lot," he said.
Blade Runner 2049 will screen at the Theatre Maisonneuve at Montreal's Place des arts tonight.
With files from Nantali Indongo and The Canadian Press