First Annual Champs-Elysees Film Festival Wraps After Strong First Run

Matthew Akers Portrait - P 2012
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Matthew Akers Portrait - P 2012

Matthew Akers’ documentary "Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present" won the Audience Prize at the week-long fest honoring U.S. indie film.

PARIS -- The lights went down on Paris’ most famous avenue on Tuesday night as the Champs-Elysées Film Festival closed after a successful first run.

Matthew Akers’ documentary Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present won the Audience Prize for a feature film at the closing ceremonies held at Publicis Cinema on Tuesday night. The event attracted more than 15,000 people during its week-long run that kicked off last week with an homage to Harvey Weinstein and A-list guests including The Artist producer Thomas Langmann, The Intouchables directing duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, Virginie Ledoyen, Audrey Dana and Deborah Francois.

Created by Gallic production and distribution powerhouse Sophie Dulac, the inaugural fest screened more than 50 films in five theaters spread out along the Champs-Elysees including the Balzac, Gaumont Champs-Elysées, the Lincoln, the Publicis Cinéma and UGC George V.

Donald Sutherland joined his French fans over the weekend for a good-humored “Hollywood Conversation” after a screening of Alan J. Pakula’s Klute and before being named a Commander des Arts & Lettres by France’s cultural minister.   U.S. directors in the fest’s official selection including Ira Sachs, Celine Danhier, Akers, Devyn Waitt and Anne Renton were in town for post-screening Q&As with audiences.  Festival co-President Michael Madsen also hosted an acting masterclass after a screening of Kill Bill 2.

The “U.S. in Progress” prize went to Hannah FIdell’s A Teacher that will now receive funds for post-production services to complete the project. While the fest was designed to celebrate U.S. indie cinema, French films were also on the menu as top talents including Agnes Jaoui, Charles Berling and Bruno Podalydes came to present their latest films.