Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Montreal Film Festival Diaries
Montreal Diary - Arrival

by Henri Béhar

August 22, 1996

The way things took off, it was a nightmare -- and ''took off'' is not exactly the right phrase.

The Air Canada flight being scheduled for 6:55 am, the car picked me up at 4:30. At the airport, the A.C. counter is deserted. A quick peek at the monitor indicates the flight was cancelled. Did A.C. bother to tell anyone? Not according to the 30-some people who were lining up, including an actor who had to be on the set at 10 am. (He never was).

Finally, at 6 AM, the A.C. people put down their coffee cups and dealt with us, rebooked the ''lucky ones'' on the 7 a.m. Delta flight to Montreal.

We schlep our luggage to the Delta Terminal, get on board, leave. 45 minutes later (on a one-hour flight), there seems to be a petite noise as they try the landing gear, but ''nothing really,'' the pilot says. Only to let us know, five minutes later, that the problem is not so petite and we're returning to La Guardia, where we land at 8:38, twenty minutes after we were supposed to land in Montreal.

The reason? ''It's mechanical.'' Why couldn't we land in Montreal but did in La Guardia? ''Er...'' When's the next flight: ''11:20''. Can the Festival people waiting for us in Montreal at least be informed of our delay? ''Pay phones are over there, sir.'' Is there a lounge we can all sit in and wait? ''Are you flying coach, sir?'' Can we at least get a complimentary cup of coffee? ''Huh?'' We finally get to Montreal at 1 PM. only to discover that Air Canada had told our hosts their 6.55 flight had been ''cancelled due to weather conditions in New York''. A blatant lie. So why didn't Delta cancel theirs? ''I don't know sir, perhaps company policy?''

Not conducive to the best of moods to confront nearly 400 features (21 in competition), short films (70) and videos from 60 countries. We missed the press screening of the opening-night film, and the catalogue weighs a ton.


The jury is introduced, they dutifully line up, waiting for the President. Make that the Queen, for it is a regal Jeanne Moreau that walks on stage, blonde, trim, wearing a dazzling black frock. She doesn't say much. she doesn't have to. The voice is incomparable, a lifetime of experience--and cigarettes. ''I declare the 20th World Film Festival open.''

Directed by ''The Brothers McMullen'' helmer Edward Burns, ''She's The One'' aims to be funny, sexy, charming, frothy. smart and romantic. The operative phrase here is ''aims to be''. What it IS, actually, is likable, a bit sentimental, smart-alecky. Clean. Pleasant while around, not missed when gone.


The opening-night party takes place at the Marche Bonsecours, an old doric-pillared ''halle'' just about the size of the Farmers' Market in L.A. The historic venue has been revamped: the ground floor entry hall sports a huge cigar-shaped prewar film camera. The upstairs hall has a low barrel-vaulted ceiling and colonial-era fieldstone wall. The ceiling has become a ''screen'' on which the Astral logo is laser-projected (bit tacky, but hey). Despite the imposing decor, it turns out to be an unexpectedly relaxed affair. The limo drivers wait patiently, holding an ice-cream cone. And the view on the blue-lit Old Harbour is majestic.

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