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ÉCU-The European Independent Film Festival

ÉCU - The European Independent Film Festival is dedicated to the discovery and advancement of the very best independent films from around the world. We are a festival who believes in our independent filmmakers and their artistic talents. ÉCU proudly provides a unique platform that brings together diverse audiences who are hungry for something other than major studio productions and original and innovative filmmakers. 

The 16th edition of ÉCU - The European Independent Film Festival will take place on 9th-11th April 2021. Now open for submissions!




For more details regarding the festival, please visit our website at




Contemplations of a Culture-Shocked Movie-Goer

By Moze Halpernin

Those of you who live in Paris have likely noticed the frightening abundance of misery-stricken, wet, baffled, crushed, torn, tempest-tossed Korean widows plastering the Paris metro stations.  Lurking behind every endearingly Parisian puff of urine with that worn mien, waiting to shatter commuters’ iPoded complacency, silently bemoaning the woes, the burdens, the weight of motherhood.  Actually, said Korean widows are just one Korean widow, played by Hye-Ja Kim, star of acclaimed director Bong Joon-Ho’s Mother.  After feeling the emotional punch of the posters at least four times daily (or however many metro rides, transfers, etc. I took, multiplied by about 11, thanks to those overzealous French poster gluers), I couldn’t simply not see the movie; I wanted to know why this woman was so, so pitiful.  In that sense, I suppose I am a sucker for the matronly melancholy, prone to offering my heart up to any Kathy Bates or Bette Midler who sheds a tear on my screen. I therefore enlisted three friends to accompany me to the Odéon at St-Germain-des-Prés– one friend who barely speaks French, one who speaks decent French, and one who is French– entirely unaware of the fact that I either was or wasn’t about to catalyze a very telling or not-so-telling social experiment.   For, as an American, seeing a Korean movie subtitled in French takes a certain amount of energy, inventiveness, and willingness to admit to defeat.

The movie opens with a sweeping shot of Kim trudging through a wheat-field.  Anticipating a thoroughly despair-drenched film, I found myself so ready to submit to the lugubriousness of the lone-woman-in-wheat-field motif, for the camera (and me, vicariously) to swing down upon her weathered face, for it to rain on that ho-bag, to feel the instant gratification of sympathy for aforementioned ho-bag. Alas, no such catharsis was provided.  Rather, as the shot nears her face, she begins to flop around.  And the flopping turns to dancing– a little disco, a little twist– oh so supple.  And her frown transforms to a smile, then euphoria, then back to a frown.  This lady was not the dejected bitty from the posters- no, this lady had spunk. I felt betrayed, though quite contentedly so.  I had so impressionably trusted the poster, but now I was getting something so much better.  A soggy perm, wheat, and the sexualized elderly.  I was laughing hysterically. I laughed throughout the film regardless of the progressively perverse plot.  Director Bong Joon-Ho makes many an ironic attempt at detachment- shooting from the point of view of a plate of shellfish and incorporating assumedly inaccessible topics (incest? infanticide?  shellfish testimonies?) to deny the audience the right to seek sanctuary or familiarity in this woman’s misfortune. I was laughing with the film, not at it, I thought.  I was doing exactly what Joon-Ho was asking.  



 For, really, all one can do is laugh and maybe weed through the tawdry plot for intention, but probably not.  Perhaps purpose can be found in the meticulous filmmaking.  Perhaps not.  One shot, during which Mother dribbles a bowl of coffee into son Yoon Do-joon’s mouth as he pisses a puddle against a wall was one of many possible strokes of genius that both provided glorious cinematic eye candy and an impeccable thematic summary: mother gives birth, nurtures, and Son (along with Son’s digestive and urinary tracts, all torn from mother’s womb) expels it as piss.  Farfetched interpretation?  Maybe.  A fantastic shot, nonetheless.


So I laughed, thinking I was laughing with genius.  My friends laughed, thinking they were laughing at awkward filmmaking and uncomfortably placed dance numbers.  Perhaps I was the only smart one. Or the only douchebag laughing at an earnest portrayal of desperation. Or maybe the film was more brilliant than even I thought.  Maybe I, so sycophantically in awe, had become a human genre-fuck of the two spectator archetypes, fragmented in coordination with the genre-fuck of the film I was watching. Maybe I’m just being sycophantic.


The friend who spoke very little French, and to my knowledge, no Korean, thought it was a failed tragedy.  My friend who spoke decent French did, too.  My French friend, a fan of New French Extremism (a movement in which incest and murderous frumpstresses are invariable, to which he was thus desensitized) thought it was a highly successful tragedy; incest and infanticide aren’t alienating, he believed– they are the healthy components to any relatable drama.  I left, adamantly attached to my interpretation, but soon I began to doubt myself:  were each of our interpretations cultural, or based on our cultural limitations?  Do woebegone women spontaneously break out in the twist in most Korean movies?  Was I overly confident in my interpretation of the subtitles?  And, since it was mostly the visuals and the cinematographic wit that I found so hilarious, how did my friend (the near-Frenchless, totally Koreanless one), judging mostly by visuals, find it a mediocre tragedy and not an ingeniously calculated dark, dark comedy?


I realized that movie-going in Paris may be much more complicated than in the States.  Suddenly grammar, reading comprehension, attention-span-while-listening-in-Korean-reading-in-French-and-critiquing-in-English and other egregious aspects of being foreign played into our pseudo-intellectual “that’s so Jooh-Ho”/”well, on my neighbor’s karaoke machine…” post-film dialogue.  Now we were burdened by the notion that every idea we may have had about the movie may have been a fluke of our linguistic ineptitude. Every time I see that face in the metro stations, I am forced to confront my confusion, to wonder, really, is she crying, is she laughing, or is she just a smug little reminder that I am foreign to everything around me, and vice versa?  Probably not.  But she does a damn good twist.


Moze Halpernin is a third-year creative writing student at Oberlin College, and a featured ÉCU blog writer.



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About ÉCU-The European Independent Film Festival

Hillier Scott



Scott Hillier, Founder and President of ÉCU - The European Independent Film Festival
Scott Hillier is a director, cinematographer, and screenwriter, based in Paris, France. In the last 20 years, Hillier has gained international recognition from his strong and incredible cinematography, editing, writing, producing and directing portfolio in both the television and film industries.  
Scott began his career in the television industry in Australia. In 1988, he moved to London getting a job with the BBC who then set him to Baghdad. This opportunity led him to 10 years of traveling around world for the BBC, mainly in war zones like Somalia, Bosnia, Tchetcheynia, Kashmir, and Lebanon. After a near fatal encounter with a Russian bomber in Tchechnyia, Hillier gave up his war coverage and began in a new direction. 

He moved to New York City in 1998.  He directed and photographed eight one-hour documentaries for National Geographic and The Discovery Channel. Based on his war knowledge and experience, Hillier wrote and directed a short film titled, “Behind the Eyes of War!" The film was awarded “Best Short Dramatic Film” at the New York Independent Film and TV Festival in 1999. From that he served as Supervising Producer and Director for the critically acclaimed CBS 42 part reality series, "The Bravest” in 2002 and wrote and directed a stage play called, "Deadman’s Mai l," which ran at Le Théâtre du Moulin de la Galette in Paris during the summer of 2004. He then became the Director of Photography on a documentary titled, “Twin Towers." This was yet another life changing experience for Hillier. The riveting documentary won an Academy Award for "Best Documentary Short Subject" in 2003. In 2004, Hillier changed continents again, spending three months in Ethiopia. He produced “Worlds Apart,” a pilot for ABC America / True Entertainment / Endemol. As you can see, Hillier was and is always in constant movement and enjoys working in a number of diverse creative areas including documentaries, music videos, commercials, feature and short films.

Scott studied film at New York University and The London Film and Television School. He also studied literary non-fiction writing at Columbia University. Hillier's regular clients include the BBC, Microsoft, ABC, PBS and National Geographic. Between filming assignments, he used to teach film, a Masters Degree course in Screenwriting at the Eicar International Film School in Paris, France and journalism at the Formation des Journalistes Français in Paris, France. 




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