Academy Award-nominated Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve will be bringing his hotly anticipated adaptation of Dune to audiences in Montreal as part of the 50th edition of the Festival du nouveau cinéma.
While the film will be released in Quebec movie theatres on October 22, festival-goers will get the chance to watch the film a few days early on the closing night of the festival, Oct. 17.
In 2017, Villeneuve was on hand at the festival to present his Blade Runner 2049, appearing on a red carpet to greet fans.
While Villeneuve won't be repeating his red carpet appearance this year, organizers say he has recorded a special video message for fans who come to watch the screening in Montreal.
The Festival du nouveau cinéma 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 in 2017.
His new film, Dune, is based on the novel by Frank Herbert and was subject to several previous film and television adaptations.
It stars Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem, among others.
As was the case with Blade Runner 2049, it took many months to negotiate and organize the screening of Dune in Montreal, said Nicolas Girard Deltruc, the festival's director.
Deltruc said he recalls speaking with Villeneuve in 2017 about Dune.
"I talked with him when he came to the premiere of Blade Runner. He told me Dune was one of the first books he read as a teenager and it was [always] in his mind to adapt it," said Deltruc.
He said the director avoided watching other adaptations of the book, wanting to hold on to the images he had imagined while reading the book in his youth.
'A national treasure'
Deltruc said that as Villeneuve's star has risen, the director has become a real point of pride for many in the Quebec film industry.
"Everyone is very proud of Denis' work," he said.
In talks with Warner Bros. Pictures about getting authorization to screen the film at the festival, Deltruc explained that Villeneuve holds a special place of honour at the festival and in his home province.
"For us, Denis Villeneuve and Dune — it's not just a film and a director — it's a national treasure."
Deltruc added that it's pure luck the film's release date was pushed back from Oct. 1 to Oct. 22, meaning that the screening at the festival would be in advance of its hitting theatres.
That's not the only timing that is working out in the festival's favour. Deltruc said that even though the event starts today, the public health restrictions on venues change as of Oct. 8.
"Today and tomorrow we are still with the old rules and Friday we will upgrade and accept people in the theatre with full capacity," he said.
Deltruc said he's hopeful that by this time next year, the festival will be free of COVID-19 restrictions.
"I strongly believe that in one year, in October 2022, we will be able to welcome all our guests and to do parties and to organize something even more festive," he said.
Dune will screen on Sunday, October 17 at the Imperial Cinema in Montreal at 8 p.m.