Insights from talented Filmmakers

Paris shines brighter. The European Independent Film Festival

A diverse blend of Filmmakers gathered in the City of Lights this April. Moved by dreams, powered by talent, they joined the venue to share their passion with other like-minded artists. So it began: the XI edition of the European Independent Film Festival.

 

 

Foto ECU 2016

Festival venue at Montparnasse (photo courtesy of ECU)

 

Indie in the real meaning of the term (open to all films made with less than 50% participation by a Major), the Festival reached its eleventh edition and gained esteem and recognition on the field. It is sometimes referred to as the “Sundance of Europe”. 25 awarded works, with 7 categories reserved to non-European filmmakers, to discover the Winners among the 1.000+ participants. Nonetheless, a mere report of the Festival winners wouldn’t do justice to the quality of the many selected works that were screened during the weekend 8th-10th April in Montparnasse. The bar was very high.

 

First clear fact about the Festival is the variety of the Filmmakers involved. The atmosphere is multicultural, social engagement is in the air. Not only the artists came from different backgrounds. The Festival itself and the Filmmakers appeared completely prepared to look at delicate issues from a relativist perspective.

 

32% of the awards ended up in women’s hands, with a particular mention to the most relevant awards. Comparing this data with the same variable from other reference Festivals (e.g. Academy Awards, Sundance), the ECU percentage is way higher.

 

Best European Independent Film winner was Una Gunjak for “The Chicken” (Croatia/Germany), a sensitive short movie about the perception of life and the consequences of freedom through the eyes of a little girl in Sarajevo in 1993.

 

 

Mélanie Delloye achieved the Best Director award for her brilliant film “L’Homme De Ma Vie” – “The Man Of My Life” (France): the transition from childhood to adolescence of a very determined girl.

 

Following on the same trend we find the Best Independent Music Video winner (yes, music videos are challenging in a dedicated category, well done!): director Helen Takkin with her video for the song “Circles” by the Estonian band Ewert and the two dragons (music video here). The award was received by Producer Kadi Freja Felt and Production designer Kamilla Kase. Women’s power in Music video making.

 

Rebecca Calder at ECU_wide photo

Rebecca Calder – Best Actress (photo courtesy of ECU)

 

As Rebecca Calder won her Best Actress award, the audience of Montparnasse acclaimed openly for her performance in “LOVE/ME/DO” (UK, Facebook page here). Both the film and the actress are collecting awards from indie festivals in Europe and the US. To close this tune, a special message to support women’s artistic activity came from Marie Hinterkoerner, Best Feature Script winner with her screenplay “As An Actress”.

 

MARIE

It’s a good time for women Writers, our voices are being heard. So get on out there!

 

Best Independent Animation award winner was “The Old Man And The Bird” (Germany), a sensitive short characterized by great aesthetics. “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos” (Russia), critically praised and nominated in the category Best Animated Short at the last edition of the Academy awards, had to give way: another proof that the selection was excellent and the outcome often uncertain.

 

A special attention to socially engaged works was also testified by the success of the films “Refugees” by Eduardo Hernandez Perez and Hans Jaap Melissen (Best Experimental), “Life On The Border” (Best non-European Docu, made in refugee camps between Iraq and Syria),  “Women In Sink” by Iris Zaki (Best European Documentary), “Semiliberi” by Matteo Gentiloni (Special Jury Mention) and The Way Of Tea (Best Editing – supported by a wonderful Cinematography and an intriguing story, Ed).

 

The Ahmed Khedr Award for Excellence in Arab Filmmaking is the ultimate testimony to the pluralistic approach of the Festival. Personally introduced by the Festival Director Scott Hillier, it was achieved by the Syrian-American director Sam Kadi for his feature documentary “Little Gandhi” (Turkey/USA/Syria, Facebook page here).

 

 

The film is focused on the Syrian peace activist Ghiyath Matar, whose incarceration led to the escalation of the Syrian Civil war. Matar’s death marked transition from a peace movement to an armed uprising. While receiving his award, in the spotlight, Sam Kadi made it clear.

 

SAM

This is not for me. This is for the 500.000 Syrian victims, 12 millions displaced people, 400.000 prisoners, 500.000 injured caused by the conflict.

 

In the light of these words, Sam Kadi and the whole team involved in “Little Gandhi” honored their struggle for the development of such an effective project.

 

SAM

Humanity is waking up.

 

So Long Live Indie Cinema, in Paris as all around the world.

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