Thursday July 31, 2022

MONTREAL, July 31, 2022 –  The Montreal World Film Festival will pay tribute to international distributor-producer Michael J. Werner, chairman of film sales of Fortissimo Films. The veteran America-born producer has been located in Hong Kong over the past two decades from where he guided the production and distribution of Asian films to markets around the world.


“Michael J. Werner is an essential figure in the world of independent cinema, a shining example of how to make and distribute quality films for global audiences” said MWFF president Serge Losique. “He was born in California, produces in Asia and distributes around the world. By giving new directing and producing talents a platform he is contributing to the sustainment and expansion of the ever-evolving industry.”


As part of the tribute to Michael J. Werner, the Festival will show five recent films distributed and/or co-produced by Fortissimo: Tears of the Black Tiger directed by Wisit Sasanatieng (Thailand, 2000), Norwegian Wood, by Tran Ang Hung (Japan, 2010), The Grandmaster by Wong Kar Wai (Hong Kong, 2013) and the Canadian premieres of The Great Hypnotist, by Leste Chan (China, 2014) and Black Coal, Thin Ice by Diao Yinan (China / Hong Kong, 2014), this year’s Golden Bear winner at the Berlin Film Festival.


Los Angeles-born, Michael J. Werner is a long-time veteran of the movie sales business, with nearly 30 years experience in international film sales and consulting, specializing in the Asia-Pacific region. He joined Fortissimo Film Sales as an external consultant in 1995 and in 2000 became a partner in the company. Werner had a prior focus on big commercial films handling such titles as Die Hard 3, Talk Radio and Evita.


As a media consultant his clients included 20th Century Fox International, IBM, Polygram and The Sunshine Group/CineAsia. In recent years, he and Fortissimo has ventured into the world of film financing and production and Werner has served as executive producer, co-producer or associate producer on a number of high profile independent films from Asia including Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster, Invisible Waves by Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Norwegian Wood by Tran Anh Hung, Springtime in a Small Town by Tian Zhuangzhuang, and Tokyo Sonata by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, among many others.



A frequent speaker at panels, film financing events and seminars, Werner has also served on numerous advisory boards in Asia including Screen Singapore’s board of directors, Hong Kong’s Asian Film Awards nominating committee, Busan’s Asian Film Market advisory committee and Singapore’s New Feature Film Fund selection committee.


With Fortissimo Co-Chair Wouter Barendrecht, in 2005 Werner was awarded a Silver Hugo for his contribution to world cinema by the Chicago Film Festival and in 2006 they were jointly awarded a Golden Kinnaree for their contribution to Asian cinema by the Bangkok Film Festival. He has lived in Hong Kong since 1995. In 2006 he became member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Executive Branch).


The only large competitive festival in North America accredited by FIAPF (the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations), the 38th Montreal World Film Festival will run in 21 days, from August 21 to September 1, 2014.



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