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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




Out of the Darkness: Paraguayan National Cinema

By Rose Stokes

Three words to describe Paraguayan national cinema? “Work in
progress,” says Luis Aguirre, writer and director of Universo
Servilleta/Napkin Universe (2010) and he makes a good point. Paraguay’s
national cinematic output has been, up until very recently, virtually
non existent. This can be attributed to many factors, the most obvious
of which is the creative stranglehold suffered by the country at the
hands of Alfredo Stroessner during his incredibly repressive (and
recent) 35-year-long dictatorship. Paraguay struggled in the post
Stroessner years to find its cinematic voice and to begin to generate a
national film culture. Aguirre compares it to “the feeling you get when
you wake up from a long sleep, it takes you some time to get moving
again” which is understandable, after years of lying dormant, Paraguay’s
national cinema didn’t know quite what to do with its new found
liberty. But get moving it did, and now it’s sprinting towards the
horizon at a pace which is difficult even for the most agile cinephile
to keep up with.

The recent explosion in Paraguayan cinema has produced an array of
exciting, diverse and dynamic films and projects all trying to grab the
attention of cinema goers both inside and outside of the country. And
with so much untouched subject matter dealing with past and present
political and social issues, Paraguay’s cinematic gaze is spinning in
all directions; backwards, forwards, around and around. It’s hardly
surprising then to see films like Renate Costa’s Cuchillo de Palo/108
(2010), a documentary that confronts the mistreatment of homosexuals
during the dictatorship, hitting international film festivals like a
whirlwind, sweeping up numerous awards and critical acclaim in its path.
In the same vein of politically committed cinema, we find Marcelo
Martinessi’s short Calle Última/Ultima Street (2010), a film exploring
the harsh reality faced by Asunción’s street children, which has also
been well received outside of the country.

But Paraguay’s national film culture is not all politically
motivated; that is just one of its many branches. Films like Aguirre’s
Universo servilleta/ Napkin Universe (2010) and Marcelo
Tolces-Asrilevich’s Dieciocho cigarillos y medio/ Eighteen and a Half
Cigarettes (2011) are snapshots of contemporary Asunción which paint the
city as vibrant and full of life whilst giving a face to its rapidly
growing youth culture. In both cases the director manages to portray the
Asunción of today as a rich combination of old and new, traditional
and modern; a culture which has changed and evolved with modernity but
which still retains its paraguayismo.

In truth, the most electrifying thing about this cinema is that it’s
still in its infancy. There are multiple routes and options still left
to be explored and uncovered. As Martinessi puts it, “it’s a cinema
which is still deciding what it wants to be when it grows up,” and what
could be more exciting than that? As a cinema goer in Paraguay, every
time I set foot in another screening, the buzz is exhilarating; you
never know what to expect and there is a real sense of excitement as
everyone waits with bated breath to see the next offering. And what with
Paraguay’s hand of talented directors, all intent on making their mark
on this blank canvas, it seems the best is yet to come. So, Paraguayan
cinema in three words? My answer is “watch this space”.

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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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