Harvey Weinstein, Donald Sutherland and Michael Madsen to Attend Inaugural Champs-Elysees Film Festival

8:47 AM PST 04/26/2012 by Rebecca Leffler
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The public and professional event, focused on U.S. indie cinema, will host red carpet premieres of both French and American titles.

PARIS -- France’s current national hero and The Artist producer Harvey Weinstein will join Donald Sutherland and Gallic A-list artists for the inaugural Champs Elysees Film Festival in June.

Organizers unveiled more details on the weeklong fest at a cocktail event Thursday in Paris.

Close to 50 films will be screened during the event organized under the patronage of the French cultural minister and run by producer, distributor and exhibitor Sophie Dulac. The Champs Elysees Film Festival will kick off June 6 in the French capital.

Michael Madsen will be this year’s U.S. president of honor alongside a French president of honor, actor Lambert Wilson.

The festival will honor Weinstein with a tribute to the industry giant’s career and screenings of movies he has produced including Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Good Will Hunting, The Yards and the Kill Bill films.

Sutherland will also be at the festival for an homage to his prolific career. The actor will also be named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French cultural minister. The Alan J. Pakula-directed Klute (1971) will screen followed by a “Hollywood conversation” with Sutherland.

The Champs-Elysees fest will screen both U.S. indie titles and major Hollywood premieres.

“It’s all about independent U.S. cinema,” Dulac told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a bridge between Hollywood and America.”

This year’s lineup includes Richard Linklater’s Bernie, Dennis Lee’s Jesus Henry Christ, Ira SachsKeep the Lights On, Sheldon CandisLUV, Matthew Akers’ Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, Devyn Waitt’s Not Waving but Drowning, Bruce Beresford’s Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, Anne Renton’s The Perfect Family plus documentaries from Errol Morris (Tabloid) and Celine Danhier (Blank City).

The fest also will premiere major U.S. titles ahead of their wide French release, including Agnieszka Wojtow’s After Life, starring Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci; Gabe TorresBrake with Stephen Dorff; Rick Jacobson’s Bitch Slap; Jennifer Westfeld’s Friends With Kids; Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take in 3D; Azazel JacobsTerri and Matthew Gordon’s Summertime.

“Our main goal now is to attract audiences to the theaters to see these films,” Dulac said.

Launching less than two weeks adter the Cannes Film Festival wraps, the Champs-Elysees fest will roll out the red carpets again to welcome talents from the U.S. and France. The public and professional event is sandwiched between the Cannes in May and the Deauville American Film Festival in September. Organizers said they chose the slot since it was one of the only times no other major events were happening in the always-busy French capital. Plus, Dulac told THR, “Americans adore Paris in the springtime.”

Every night, the fest will host premieres of French films on the Champs-Elysees, complete with a visit from the film’s talent. French premieres include Bruno PolyadesAdieu Berthe, which will screen in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar at Cannes, alongside other titles premiering on the Croisette including Alain Resnais’ competition film Vous n’avez encore rien Vua and Quentin Dupieux’s Wrong.

The Champs-Elysees fest also will screen all of this year’s best foreign-language film Oscar nominees.

The event will be open to the public but will focus on professionals with special “U.S. in Progress” days for film biz execs and talent. Organized by the American Film Festival of Wroclaw in Poland, the Champs-Elysees fest and Black Rabbit Film, the U.S. in Progress days aim to showcase U.S. films in postproduction for European buyers. This year’s crop of almost-finished films includes Jocelyn Towne’s I Am I, Travis Gutierrez Senger’s Desert Cathedral, Michael Barlett’s The House of Last Things and Hannah Fidell’s The Teacher.

The winner will receive subtitling, digital postproduction aid, promotion on Europa Distribution’s network and broadcast in France on Cine+Club channel.

“We have co-production treaties with several countries but not the U.S.,” Dulac said. "It’s a shame because U.S. independent cinema is so diverse."

The Weinstein homage will take place June 7, and several French and international talents who have worked with the producer throughout his long career will join him onstage for the presentation before a dinner organized by the festival complete with French talent and industry execs. Weinstein also will participate in a roundtable with French producers and distributors to talk about the possibilities for future collaboration between the U.S. and France.

More than 30 short films also will screen for the public during the event.

The Champs-Elysees Film Festival runs June 6-12 in Paris.

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