True, the Montreal World Film Festival wasn't actually pronounced dead two years ago. But the vultures were definitely circling. As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, both local government film financier SODEC and its federal counterpart, Telefilm Canada, withdrew funding in 2005 and prospects for the festival looked bleak. Happily, things have changed for the better. Founder Serge Losique now declares that the festival is in good health with "renewed financial commitment from all levels of government," according to a story in the Montreal Gazette. The upcoming 31st edition of the festival will screen 230 features and 210 shorts from 70 countries.

Twenty films are part of the official competition for the "Grand Prize of the Americas." Monika Bartyzal wrote about the contemporary drama Spinning into Butter a few days ago; it stars Sarah Jessica Parker and is one of two US films in the competition. Matt Bradshaw wrote about the other one, September Dawn, back in January. The US release date for this historical drama starring Jon Voight has now been set for August 24. Other titles competing for the Grand Prize include Abel Ferrara's Go Go Tales and veteran French director Claude Miller's A Secret, which will also serve as the closing night presentation.

New directors have their own section: 21 will be presented in the "First Films World Competition." Ten horror films, including Rob Zombie's Halloween remake, will be screened in the new "Midnight Slam" program. Among the documentaries, Running With Arnold caught my eye because I remember that Cinematical's Jette Kernion had strong words about the film's fairness when she saw it at South by Southwest. But what's a festival without a little controversy? At least this one is alive and well. The Montreal World Film Festival runs from August 23 to September 3; much more information is available at the official site.