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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 14th edition of ÉCU - The European Independent Film Festival will take place in Paris, France in 5th, 6th and 7th of April, 2019.
For more details regarding the festival, please visit our website at




Our Paris Series Part IV: Canal Saint Martin


By Sophie Nellis


The best place to go if you’re looking for atmosphere…

In addition to the Gare du Nord and the Gare de l’Est, one of the key landmarks in the 10th arrondissement is the Canal St-Martin. Although the northern part of the canal has a slightly industrial feel to it, the southern part is very picturesque and it’s a great place to go if you fancy a leisurely stroll. The tree-lined quais are closed on Sundays, making it the perfect place for parents to take their kids for a walk, rollerbladers to rollerblade, and, in summer, for bringing wine and a picnic and hanging out along the canal’s edge. Trendy bars, bistros and boutiques add to the arty atmosphere.


At 102 quai de Jemmapes, is the Hôtel du Nord, made famous by Michel Carné’s 1938 film of the same name.* The film starred the well-known French actress Arletty, who the most famous scene of the film has standing on the bridge outside the hotel declaring Atmosphère, atmosphère! Est-ce que j’ai une gueule d’atmosphère?” (Rough translation: “Atmosphere, atmosphere! Do I look like I care about atmosphere?”) Arletty was quite a character. After the Second World War, she was briefly imprisoned for having had a relationship with a German army officer. Later, when asked about this liason, she replied “Mon cœur est français, mon cul est international !” (“My heart is French, my ass is international!”).

More recently, the Canal St-Martin was the setting for another un-romantic scene in Julie Delphy’s Two Days in Paris. It is on the banks of the canal that the relationship between Marion, a French-born photographer living in New York, and her neurotic, American boyfriend Jack, breaks down. As the couple argue, Jack declares “We’re not in Paris, we’re in hell”. Mini-break anyone? Delphy’s decision to set part of Two Days in Paris here is perhaps an indication of how much the quartier has changed since the 1930s. No longer a working-class area, Canal St-Martin has become, in the lingo of Parisians, bobo (short for ‘bourgeois bohemian’). The Hôtel du Nord perfectly exemplifies this transformation –  it is now a très chic bar and restaurant serving très chic contemporary French cuisine.


A French friend once told me that it was only after the success of Amélie that the area around Canal St-Martin became cool and popular. It’s here where the young Amélie releases her pet fish into the wild and, later, where she comes to skim stones. And walking up the canal, you can understand why she chose to come here when she wanted to get away from Montmartre. There are few tourists, the locals seem very relaxed and you can still see the occasional barge manoeuvring through the locks.


If you’re brave enough to walk the entire length of the canal, starting in the south near République, you will eventually arrive at Bassin de Villette in the 19th arrondissement. Here you’ll find two MK2 cinemas, one on each side of the basin, and, if you’re very lucky, a cute little boat that will take you from one to the other.


* In fact, many people don’t know that most of Carné’s film was not filmed on location. He had the Hôtel du Nord and the Canal St-Martin entirely reconstructed in a set in the suburb of Billancourt. Paradoxically, in 1989 the real Hôtel du Nord was classified as an historic monument thanks to the film.

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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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