Film Scouts Diaries

1996 Montreal Film Festival Diaries
Montreal Diary - Day 12 (conclusion)

by Henri Béhar

Monday, September 2

Labor Day, in both the US and Canada. A lot of the Festival guests are gone back to New York, the Montrealers haven't returned from their long weekend yet, so at 9 am (first catch-up screening), the city is deserted. Pure heaven. Nick Nolte is seen bicycling leisurely on the Rue Sainte-Catherine.

Time to pack. Sorting out a ton of papers: the usual nightmare. Nothing clean left to wear -- except the tux to leave out for the Awards Ceremony.

For the last couple of years, instead of revealing the names of the winners at an early afternoon press conference, the Montreal Festival has decided to keep them secret till the evening gala. One sure sign, however, of knowing ahead of time who's won is spotting Who's back in town, Who's come that wasn't there when their film was presented. In from England, no less, Rupert Graves drifting into the Meridien lobby indicates that either he's won Best Actor, thus beating frontrunners Max von Sydow and Nick Nolte, or that he's subbing for "Different For Girls" director Richard Spence who is working somewhere in Europe with Salman Rushdie. As it turned out, he was in for both.

Conducted in a lackadaisical manner (read: slow, messy, disorganized, full of lulls), the evening had a few good moments. The Taviani Brothers, whose "Elective Affinities" was the closing night film, told the audience that for them also, this 20th Montreal Film Festival was a sort of anniversary: their first film, "Padre Padrone", had its north-American premiere at the very first Montreal Festival (but where were "Affinities" stars Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Hughes Anglade?).

It also had quite a few surprises. Rupert Graves did indeed beat Nolte and von Sydow, and "Different For Girls" got Best Film over "Hamsun" and "Mother Night". In competition with "The Pupil", second-time director Olivier Schtazky, from France, snatched the Best Director Award from Jan Troell and others. But what can you say? The jury's decision is final.

There was also a distinctive lack of stars. Instead, most of the minor awards were given away by the sponsors. The "I'm financing this thing, I want my face to be seen" kind of thing. Well, if be seen they must, perhaps they could, beforehand, spend, like, an hour with a dialogue coach?

Pack, type, pack some more, kick the computer back into shape... I skipped the closing night party, but hooked up with the winners as they returned, converging to the Meridien Bar, taking off their jackets and loosening their bow ties. Much better. Much more fun. Back next year?

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