Indie film festival bridges cultures

Champs-Élysées Film Festival is a 'gate between the French and American film industries'

In order from left to right, Antonia Raoux, Regis Painchaud, Justine Levesque, Eloise Loriot. Lauren Gargiulo Photo.
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Reported by Lauren Gargiulo

Love, empowerment and coming-of-age were the main themes that dominated the French and American Independent film festival Champs-Élysées 2019.

Alliance Française, a French language school in Vancouver, premiered a selection of feature and short films from the biggest film festival in Paris, Champs-Élysées, last weekend.

For the past three years, the independent French film festival has been touring the United States, showcasing a selection of films, and showing some of them for the first time in Canada.

Bridging a gap

The Champs-Élysées Film Festival is a “gate between the French and American film industries,” said Justine Lévêque, the artistic and events director for the film festival, “We mainly have American blockbusters in France. We don’t really see American indie movies.”

The festival’s main goal is to correct this problem and bridge the gap between independent films in France and America. Sophie Dulac, a prominent French producer and distributor noticed this gap, and created Champs-Élysées in 2012 as a solution.

Foreign films, an oxymoron

While foreign films to the average film viewer have almost become a genre, UBC film professor Christine Evans has a different view. “Foreign film is an oxymoron. I love the term.” Evans said, “Obviously an American film playing in Japan is foreign, as the language it’s not the same.” Character archetypes and themes are often globally recognizable, Evans said.

The four short films and two feature films selected to play Nov. 1-2 in Vancouver were selected by Regis Painchaud of Visions Ouest Productions and Eloïse Loriot the coordinator for the festival at Alliance Française. “It’s a very important festival in France,” Loriot said. “It’s interesting to see these French Independent films.”

All of the films shown during the festival tour premiered for the first time in North America. Due to French filmmakers often not having distribution in North America, and American filmmakers not having distribution in France, this may have been the only time any of these films were on the big screen in Canada.

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