ÉCU 2024 Launch Party

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In the final weeks prior to ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival, which will be taking place on the 19th, 20th and 21st of April, the launch party kicked off celebrations. Held in the Black Sheep Coffee in Paris, the party invited all cinephiles and indie film aficionados to become acquainted with the Official Selection for the 19th edition of ÉCU. With an atmosphere of excitement, several past films featured at ÉCU were showcased and a live DJ kept the crowd grooving the whole night.

Independent filmmakers and budding film students were amongst the crowd, making it the perfect opportunity to connect and share ideas. We spoke to Stéphane Berla, the director of the music video for popular duo Matthieu Chedid and Gale Ann Dorsey (one of David Bowie bassists)’s cover of Á Toi which is included in this year’s ÉCU official selection. Over the course of 2 months, Stephane and his team worked tirelessly – sometimes up to 110 hours per week as he recalls – to fulfill their ambitions for the stop motion animation, without repeating a single frame. Stéphane shared, “it’s difficult but it’s a passion. When you’re in the process all you can think about is the film. There’s no negotiation of quality. It is an obsession and all your energy goes into it. You can only sleep once it’s done.” 

Stéphane shared that while he does commercial work, the level of emotion in those films simply doesn’t match up. The experience of independent filmmaking, and particularly the format of music videos, taps into a more “sensitive, creative expression”, able to “reflect real life emotionality” and project “crazier, wilder visions”. He has “never found the same level of freedom in any other format.” Stéphane resonated with having musicians as clients because “they want something new”, “they know how creation works and they want their filmmakers to take unseen directions”, and avoid the “stereotypes in feature and short films”. Phuong Nguyen, one of the animators of the music video, was also present and discussed “the concept of duality”. “In creativity you don’t always have the full control of how things can go”, and the project gave her a lot of space to become and embody the characters, “becoming an actor” and resulting in a beautiful final product. 

We also spoke with filmmaker Jeff Gross, who has been with ÉCU since its beginning. 

Jeff had a feature film in competition at last year’s edition of ÉCU, Return to Eden, which is a “tragic love story set in a time of rising fascism in the town of Eden, Oregon”. He is currently setting up his next feature film, which references his experiences living on a little Greek island. Jeff reflected on the power of filmmaking, and his love for “the moment where an audience is transformed” by emotion evoked from a film. 

Jeff shared with us that he sees the power behind independent cinema as a channel for “renewal” and “revolution” of the plateau in mainstream cinema. While studio films may fare in a commercial, monotonous direction, the independent World always remains a platform for new and exciting stories. 

Léon Desclozeaux, a French director and ÉCU’s godfather, was a guest at the launch party and shared with us what he finds valuable about ÉCU. 

“What I love about ÉCU is that you see films that you would never see otherwise. There are some very strong films that would never be found in the French Cinema otherwise. It’s a pity they aren’t regularly screened in theaters, but ÉCU grants them this opportunity. The films we were introduced to in this year’s Official Selection are really amazing.” – Léon Desclozeaux.

Just like ÉCU, these filmmakers prefer the atypical, at times a bit weird, but ultimately the films that aren’t afraid to take risks and bring to the big screen what has never been seen before. 

ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival is thrilled to be the platform for independent filmmakers, to give them the opportunity to share their dedication and hard work with the world. Every year, we screen thought-provoking and unique films, highlighting the irreplaceable value of independent filmmaking and bringing projects to an international audience.

The official selection for the 19th edition of ÉCU features 53 films from 23 countries, competing in 14 categories. All the films will be screened at Cinéma Les 7 Parnassiens in Paris, France on the 19th, 20th and 21st of April, 2024. Festival attendees are additionally invited to professional filmmaking workshops such as “Trends in the Distribution of Independent Films” by Gareth Jones and “Workshop Editing and Structure” held by Antoine Vareille. In addition, completing the programme are Q&As with directors from all around the world, and the female-filmmakers-in-competitions discussions panel #SheShoots.

Tickets are available online, by session or for the entire weekend. 

Article Written by Eliya Weinstein

Interviews by Julia Diana and Léa Neves

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