To See the Unseen – “Best European Documentary” at ÉCU2024

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Documentaries are often considered the black sheep of filmmaking, focusing often on the topics that society and the film industry prefer to keep away from the spotlight. 
This year at the ECU Film Festival we had the pleasure of rewarding those who, despite all the hardships and mixed expectations, continue to create great pieces of film journalism.
Each year, the festival’s jury carefully selects nominees whose documentaries exemplify excellence in story, execution, and commitment. This year however the competition was strong with several films from all over Europe participating for the title of the best documentarian. 
These films delve into a wide range of subjects, from pressing social issues to personal narratives, welcoming the audience into a variety of cultures, experiences, and perspectives.
The “Best European Documentary” category not only celebrates the artistry and craftsmanship of filmmakers but also attempts to recognize the difficulty of approaching socially difficult tropes and subjects.

Competing in this year’s race for the best Documentary we had several creatives many of whom we had the pleasure of hosting in Paris. Here are this year’s contestants : 

Beyond the Frame, dir. Simone Brioni & Matteo Sandrini

Personal story of an Italian-American individual coming to terms with his family’s and country’s difficult past. The film focuses on the personal narratives of people who lived through some of the scariest times of XX-century Europe and how their lives intertwined with the grand political events of the time. 

AYITI, A HAITIAN STORY, dir. Clément Beauvois, Kevin Duval, Valentin Gaffie, Alexis Pautler

A titular story of life, culture, and history of the troubled island of the world’s first Black republic settled in the island of Hispaniola.

Daylight Follows, dir Geoff Brooks

A story of friendship in arguably the most difficult time of human history. Stories of two people – an American soldier and a Czechoslovakian boy, prisoner in Auschwitz intertwined at the end of the Second World War.

JOHN ADAMS GET UP THE YARD, dir Jose Ángel Catalán Ruiz

Analyzing the life and creative process of an Irish artist – John Adams, discussing the deeper aspects of art and the emotions that come alongside it.

Roger, dir Ben Shweky

Following the life of an established French artist and his life journey through the liberations from the French rule in North Africa and the quietness of Provence the story of a now more than 90-year-old painter captivates the imaginations of many.

The winner of this year’s category was AYITI, A HAITIAN STORY, a beautiful and deeply personal glimpse into the life of the island country so often misrepresented in the media and public perception. The screening of the film evoked strong emotions in the cinema halls. This in combination with the strong craftsmanship, execution, and photography surely lead the jurors to this choice. 
The film surely deserves the recognition it got at our festival, however here it’s also important to once again thank all the makers of documentaries and the effort they put into creating their works.

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