ÉCU Film Festival: All Lights Set

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Vincent Zhou, director from “I C U”

The echoes of applause still resound through the busy boulevards of Paris as the second night of the ÉCU Film Festival came to a close earlier today. The day when the magic of cinema transcended barriers and captivated audiences, leaving a permanent mark on the artistic scene of the city for the 19th time. 

After the initial grandiose of the opening night, the stakes were high. The independent filmmaking scene as well as the crew of ÉCU managed to fulfill critics expectations.

The ÉCU Film Festival unfolded with all the grandeur and charm once again proving its almost two decades-long legacy. From the moment the lights dimmed and the first frame flickered across the screen, the audience was transported into a world of cinematic excellence. The lineup is carefully curated to showcase the best of the independent cinema. On this Saturday evening, the coming-up stars of European film gathered to admire each other’s works and efforts.

Throughout the night, the festival showcased a remarkable array of films, from intimate character studies to sweeping epics, the breadth of talent on display was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Standout performances, thought-provoking themes, and stunning visuals ensured that every film left its mark on the collective consciousness of those in attendance.

The day opened with a morning workshop by the renowned Gareth Jones, tackling the topic of distributing films as an independent creator. Difficulties which are often one of the biggest headaches for young, aspiring filmmakers. Gareth has been involved in the financing, sales and distribution of feature films for over thirty five years. He has financed, sold international rights and/or distributed more than one hundred and twenty independent feature films, including ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Lock, stock and two smoking barrels’, ‘Psych 9’, ‘4321’ and, most recently, ‘Mum’s list’ starring Rafe Spall and Emilia Fox.

When talking about movie distribution he said: “If you went to the trouble of financing and creating a movie, you will want an audience to see it”. Going then on to describe the production and distribution as being 50% of the work behind a film, emphasizing its importance.

One of the many pieces of advice given by Gareth, specifically related on how to save money while making a film, it’s to choose a specific genre for it, namely, the genres that are popular at the time you are creating your movie. He used the genres of “horror, action and romantic comedies” as examples for the most commonly popular movies.

At noon the screenings began with a deeply personal journey into the director’s family’s difficult history. “Beyond The Frame”, is an Italian made film competing in the European Documentary Film category. 

In the second screening hall a Bulgarian experimental. “In Between” discussed the topics of personal identity mixing with societal expectations.

The screenings lasted until late evening, again capturing the imaginations of the audience and other filmmakers alike. 

When talking to some of the guests in the festival, Emily Niebuhr, the director of “Won’t Figure It Out Tonight”, said about her experience at ÉCU: “This festival has been so nice, such a warm welcome.” She then goes on to add: “It’s a chance to really get to know other filmmakers, and then see these amazing musicians afterwards.”, referring to the live concerts given during the festival. 

As the lights of “Les 7 Parnassiens” cinema switch off for another night, the day is a unanimously named success. The party of cinema-hungry people moved to another, equally intimate venue for a once again night of live music, french wine, and good conversations.

As the sun rises for Sunday 21st of April, the city waits in anticipation for the final day of the festival. The award ceremony takes place soon, catching the imagination of filmmakers here and those joining us remotely.

Article by Julia Chmielewska and Léa Neves

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