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By Film Threat Staff | April 12, 2005

During a pivotal anniversary year, the 25th Atlantic Film Festival (AFF), September 15-24, 2005, has been blind-sided by the Festival International de Films de Montréal’s (FIFM) recent announcement of their new dates, September 18-25, which will completely overlap with those of AFF.
“This is unacceptable,” said Gregor Ash, Executive Director, at a media conference in Halifax. “It is a significant year for us and the overall lack of consultation with key parties is a disappointment and a serious concern. We were also surprised by Telefilm Canada’s apparent endorsement of the new dates”
“We have a serious responsibility to our stakeholders, constituents and sponsors,” said Bill Niven, Chair of the Atlantic Film Festival Association Board of Directors. “It is imperative that we find a solution to this situation.”
The Atlantic Film Festival supports the idea of a strong festival presence in the city of Montréal but not at the expense of long-established festivals. Ash has been in talks with other festivals involved and it has become clear that the impact of FIFM’s one-year fix will be felt by the entire fall festival circuit, outside of the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Atlantic Film Festival feels the change in dates for FIFM will have serious repercussions in terms of availability of film prints, media coverage and special guest attendance and sponsorship support. This will also jeopardize the Atlantic Film Festival’s long-term strategic plan that has already been in development for two years and where substantial funds have been allocated. In the plan, the Atlantic Film Festival Association has adopted a mandate to expand and diversify the Festival using the 25th anniversary celebrations to launch a new international strategy to position AFF as a major boutique event with bigger prizes, higher profile guests, expanded programming and an overall 40 per cent growth. Changes to the long-term plan will prove to be costly and will have ramifications for years to come.
The Atlantic Film Festival will continue talks with FIFM, the other festivals involved and Telefilm Canada to try to come to a solution that will benefit and satisfy all involved. We also hope that this will reinvigorate the conversation about the role of Canadian festivals particularly given the current mandate to expand indigenous box office.

For more info, visit the Atlantic Film Festival website.

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