A mecca for fledgling filmmakers, the Angers First Film Festival is often described as the place to head with your debut work. Much acclaimed for its dedication to unearthing up-and-coming raw talent and providing them with a much-needed platform to a wider audience, the ten day event continues to draw tens of thousands of cinephiles to its annual carnival, and has been credited with kick-starting the embryonic careers of many a household name in the film world.
Taking place each year since 1989 in the historic French city of Angers, the Angers First Film Festival – or Festival Premier Plans d’Angers, to give its full Gallic title – throws a spotlight on emerging European filmmakers while celebrating cinematic history and the legacies of many a great director. During the festival the various strands and programmes go a long way to assisting filmmakers and screenwriters who are taking their earliest steps in the industry, and also highlight the broad range of forms and genres within contemporary European cinema.
Celebrating its 27th anniversary in 2015, this deeply engaging and rewarding ten days has gained a loyal following, particularly among students and young people. Its main programme consists of both competitive and ‘out of competition’ sections, along with several jury-selected awards for the best work screened during the event. The festival accepts first and second feature films, first short films and student films produced in Europe. Approximately 10 first feature films, 20 first short films and 30 films from European film schools are selected for the competition. Angers’ most recent edition saw over 70,000 attendees watch around 260 screenings of films from more than 20 European countries, with the Official Selection presenting 100 works which went on to compete in six categories – European first feature and short films, French first feature and short films, student films and animated films – with prize money for the festival topping 270,000 US dollars.
Notable filmmakers who cite Angers as the festival where they were ‘discovered’ include Thomas Vinterberg, Paulo Sorrentino and Aardman Animations’ Nick Park, who screened his first Wallace and Gromit adventure A Grand Day Out in 1989. Lars von Trier screened his controversial Antichrist in 2014, while previous editions have seen films as diverse as Aardman’s _Chicken_Run, Bertrand Blier’s early Gerard Depardieu starrer _Buffet froid _and a retrospective of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 all showcased for approving audiences.
Alongside the main programme Angers runs a cornucopia of supporting elements, including special screenings, homages, lectures, public readings of French scripts, sneak previews and exchanges with other film festivals and societies, where the best and brightest works from Beijing, Algeria and Austin are shown. Angers aims to make the festival a complete experience, allowing cinema lovers to meet the people who created the films they have just watched, and to rediscover the classics of European cinema.
The 27th edition of Festival Premier Plans d’Angers runs during January 2015 at various locations across the French city, including the Centre de Congrés, Gaumont Multiplexe, and the Grand Théâtre d’Angers.