The European Independent Film Festival 2020: 10 Films to Watch
The European Independent Film Festival (ÉCU) will celebrate its 15th edition from 23 – 26 April 2020. The festival would usually occur in Paris at the cinema, Les 7 Parnassiens in the 14th arrondissement, which I was certainly looking forward to visiting whilst covering the festival. However, given the current Coronavirus outbreak, this year’s festival will be launching online instead via Vimeo.
87 films from 28 countries will be shown at the festival within 14 categories including European Dramatic Short, Non-European Dramatic Feature, Student Film and European Experimental amongst others. The festival prides itself on celebrating emerging independent filmmaking and as such there will be a broad range of films to view. It is for this reason that the festival has oft been referred to as the European version of Sundance.
There are numerous awards available for the Official Selection of films, 25 awards in total, which includes an audience award plus special awards such as the Prize for Excellence in Women’s Filmmaking and The Ahmed Khedr Award for Excellence in Arab Filmmaking. The jury members are from a diverse range of backgrounds worldwide including Executive Producers, Actors, Journalists and Painters; the jury’s aim is to screen inspirational and impressive films for the festival’s audience.
Throughout the festival, there will also be music videos to view to keep the audience entertained. The festival passes for access to this year’s festival are still available here. A pass to the festival provides entry to all four days of the festival as well as the opening speech at 6.30pm (CET) on 23 April, Director Q&As and the Closing Night Award Ceremony at 7.30pm (CET) on 26 April.
There is certainly an enormous selection within the festival’s programme to view and as such, here are my 10 suggestions of films to watch:
Winner of the Best British Short in the 22nd British Independent Film Awards, Anna is truly an impressive revelation. Directed by Dekel Berenson, Anna tells the insightful tale of a middle-aged single mother seemingly bored of her life who, following a radio advert, decides to join the promoted party where foreign men are seeking love.
Anna is within the European Dramatic Short category.
The Call Centre
Nominated for the Best International Film at the Foyle Film Festival, which is Oscar affiliated, The Call Centre focuses on Paige who works within an insurance call centre. Paige is bored by the monotony until she starts speaking to David who provides a sense of fulfilment to her days which she is keen to make a reality with ensuing consequences.
The Call Centre is a debut film from Louisa Connolly-Burnham following a successful Kickstarter campaign. The film features within the European Dramatic Short category.
In the Hut of Mr Van den Brink (Im Haueschen von Herrn Van den Brink)
Described as a modern day fairytale, In the Hut of Mr Van den Brink depicts a story whereby some petty criminals find that the tables are turned on them after hiding within a garden shed to escape the police. However, they are then at the mercy of the shed’s owner as they awaken to find themselves bound and gagged!
Directed by Björn Renner, In the Hut of Mr Van den Brink is within the European Dramatic Short category.
Stated to cover the theme of feminism and described as a satire, The Manchador portrays the life of Mina and Saeed who are encountering difficulties. For Mina, due to the limitations on women in Iran, she dreams of living elsewhere. However, Saaed creates an invention which subverts the burden placed on women by directing the responsibility for the hijab towards men instead.
Directed by Kaveh Tehrani, The Manchador is part of the European Dramatic short category.
Nachricht is a tale of love and longing which follows a couple in a hotel room who have not seen each other for a long period. It is therefore a question of trying to re-connect in a world that has changed dramatically.
Lukas Turtur has directed this exploration of intimacy and Nachricht features within the European Dramatic short category.
A Family Affair
Celebrating a 30th birthday can often be angst ridden and within A Family Affair this is true for Annabelle who awakens in an unfamiliar bedroom. However, a connection develops between her and the stranger providing Annabelle with valuable life lessons.
A Family Affair has appeared within the 2019 Underwire Festival and the 2019 London Film Festival and is written and directed by Florence Keith-Roach who also stars in the film. A Family Affair is within the European Comedy category.
One of three feature length films appearing within the festival, Adverse features a stellar cast including Mickey Rourke, Penelope Ann Miller, Sean Astin and Lou Diamond Phillips. Adverse also appeared at the 2020 Berlinale and tells the tale of a ride-share driver’s attempts to save his sister after she has become addicted to drugs. In efforts to save her he must settle a debt with a dangerous crime syndicate with high stakes.
Directed by Brian A.Metcalf, Adverse features within the Non-European Dramatic Feature category.
Manara had its World Premiere during the 76th Venice Film Festival and is director Zayn Alexander’s second film. Winner of the Silver Hypatia Award at the 2020 Alexandria Short Film Festival, Manara is also a nominee for The Ahmed Khedr Award for Excellence in Arab Filmmaking at this year’s European Independent Film Festival.
Manara tells the tale of a family dealing with grief following the death of its patriarch under suspicious circumstances, which the family have to contend with in Southern Lebanon amidst a small-minded community.
Manara features within the Arab Special Selection category.
Never Give Up
A documentary following the life of Mekon who escaped from Nigeria in 2014 following the murder of his parents.
Directed by Jonathan Schörnig, Never Give Up is part of the European Documentary category.
Carry My Heart to the Yellow River
Winner of the Short Film Fiction award at the Syracuse International and the Best Family Friendly Film at South Dakota, Carry My Heart to the Yellow River follows the journey of a high school graduate. The journey takes her to Gunnan on the Yellow River bike tour after her friend falls ill and is hospitalised unable to participate in the tour. There is also the added time pressure to share the photos of this journey.
Carry My Heart to the Yellow River is directed by Alexis van Hurkman and is within the Non-European Dramatic Short category.
The European Independent Film Festival starts on Thursday 23 April 2020 and its trailer can be accessed here.