The Champs-Élysées Film Festival 2020
The Champs-Élysées Film Festival is celebrating its 9th year this year. As an independent film festival, it may be one that has not come across your radar previously but hopefully this article will help. The Champs-Élysées Film Festival typically occurs annually in Paris, on Avenue du Champs-Élysées of course! Uniquely, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the festival will be completely free and virtual for 2020.
Starting on 9 June until 16 June, the Champs-Élysées Film Festival showcases a curated programme of French and American independent cinema. For this 9th edition, there will be a range of shorts and features as well as a musical programme with around 40 films featuring in the festival.
Special guests of honour invited to this year’s festival are Stephen Frears and Edgar Wright who will be providing masterclasses and so do set a reminder for those days.
Stephen’s masterclass will be on Wednesday 10 June at 6pm (CET).
Edgar’s masterclass will be on Saturday 13 June at 6pm (CET).
These masterclasses can be accessed via the Champs-Élysées Film Festival website or the festival’s social media pages with no advance registration required.
Within the Feature Film Competition are 6 French feature films and 4 feature films from America. The categories within the competition are the Audience Prize, Jury Prize and Best Actor or Actress. The feature films will also be competing for the Critics Prize which has a separate jury.
20 French and American short films will compete for the Audience Prize and the Jury Prize.
To start off the opening night festivities, there will be a musical performance by Barbara Carlotti at 7pm (CET) which will be followed by a première at 8.30pm (CET). Jumbo starring Noémie Merlant, of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, will be the opening night film which also featured at the Berlinale earlier this year.
For this year there will also be a new section about Music and Cinema, which is outside of the Official Competition but contains 4 short films. You can create an account here to access the programme but unfortunately the films can only be accessed for viewing within France. Hopefully, for the next edition in 2021, we will be able to travel to Paris to attend the festival in person to watch the films!
However, if you are able to watch any of the films during this year’s festival or, if not, you are still interested to find new independent films to watch when the festival is over, I have included my suggestions of films that sound interesting to watch.
Films to Discover at the Champs-Élysées Film Festival
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is set around the timing of the last call for drinks at a bar in Las Vegas interestingly called The Roaring 20s. Different personality types within the community gather together in the bar in this fictionalised style documentary offering a voyeuristic view into American society when dance and alcohol combine for a cinematic delight. The film has been picked up by a US distributor and so will hopefully be coming to screens soon.
Slow Machine stars Chloë Sevigny as a between work actor, Stephanie, longing for the next adventure. Gerard enters her life and has a love of theatre but is also a counter-terrorism specialist. Self-described as a ‘screwball thriller’, the film explores their relationship as it turns into an unhealthy obsession causing Stephanie to leave town. However, a twist of fate means that Stephanie has to return to city life with the potential of crossing paths with Gerard again. Slow Machine raised funds via a Kickstarter campaign and sounds intriguing.
La Nuit Venue (Night Ride) presents a tale of immigration and potential romance. Jin is a driver for the Chinese mafia who meets Naomi one night whilst driving. Naomi, intrigued by Jin’s music collection, persuades him to become her driver. However, this places Jin in a precarious position with the mafia. Straddling elements of a crime drama, La Nuit Venue sounds like one to watch.
Los Conductos is set within Medellin, Colombia and is inspired by a true story. Pinky manages to escape from a cult but finds himself truly unable to escape as his memories imprison him as well as the violence in his surrounding circumstances. Shot in 16mm, Los Conductos is a first feature for director Camilo Restrepo.
Huntsville Station is a short film following the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Texas. The film observes the inmates that are released daily in their attempts to rebuild their lives outside of prison. The documentary follows the specific moments capturing the former inmates’ first steps outside of the prison walls and their reactions which may make for fascinating viewing from directors Chris Filippone and Jamie Meltzer.
You can view the festival’s programme here for further details of this year’s line up.