• The Paris International Fantastic Film Festival opened on Wednesday and continues until Tuesday at the Max Linder Panorama, in Paris.

  • The documentary

    The Found Footage Phenomenon

    is screened on Sunday at 9.45 p.m., in the presence of its co-director Sarah Appleton

  • For

    20 Minutes,

    she returns to

    this unloved but fascinating genre, where behind the essential references lie key curiosities and films.


Cannibal Holocaust


Paranormal Activity through

The Blair Witch Project




found footage

, both a staging device and a full-fledged sub-genre, is now known to moviegoers, even the general public. For better and sometimes for worse, with its shaky images and interchangeable films. As the Paris International Fantastic Film Festival writes, "often considered to be the poor relation of horror cinema due to its budgetary and aesthetic economy,

found footage

nonetheless has an abundant history".

For its 10th anniversary, the PIFFF has concocted a beautiful anniversary program, with the best of the news (

The Sadness




Mad Dog

), the worthy representatives of French genre cinema (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Gaspar Noé, Jan Kounen ), a special night, “forbidden” screenings and, therefore, the documentary

The Found Footage Phenomenon,

directed by Sarah Appleton and Phillip Escott, and scheduled for Sunday at 9.45pm at the Max Linder.

Make the viewer believe that what they see is real

If the

found footage

has ventured into other genres, such as comedy (

Project X

) or superheroes (Chronicle), it remains very attached, ankle to the body, to horror. Why ? “

Found footage

wants the viewer to believe that what they are seeing is real, true,” explains British director Sarah Appleton. However, this works well with horror, the purpose of which is to scare. The more you are invested in the film, in the characters, the more you will be afraid. "

If she had already seen several

found footage


, the click came for Sarah Appleton at the beginning of the 2010s with the discovery - and the shock - of

Megan is missing

by Michael Goi, a new film in France which was talked about again in 2020 and traumatized TikTok.

It features the disappearance and kidnapping of two teenage girls, and "shows you to see the reality behind the news item," comments the filmmaker.

You never know what's going on in this kind of thing, and you don't want to know.

Megan is missing

shows the invisible, the impossible ”.

She then decides to go back up the thread (m), and to understand why, how and by whom these films are made.

They are almost all in the documentary, which also tells the little story behind the "phenomenon".

Before "The Blair Witch Project", there was "The Last Broadcast"

If the references of the genre are, of course, evoked, Sarah Appleton prefers to talk about the pioneers, films that have moved lines and images.



, a BBC documentary broadcast in 1992 where reporters from the channel visit a haunted house in London.


with Orson Wells'

War of the Worlds

in 1938, or

Jean-Teddy Filippe's

Forbidden Documents

in the 1980s, viewers believe in it.

“They used house hosts, the rules of television, reacts the documentary filmmaker.

And it works, even today.


The Last Broadcast

, for its part, follows the hosts of the

Fiction or Reality show

going into the forest to investigate Blair's witch… ah no on the New Jersey devil. Released a year with

The Blair Witch Project

, the film Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler did not have the same exposure, and even remained confidential - it was released on DVD in France in 2001. Yet everything is already there for the author from

The Found Footage Phenomenon

 : “They play with the documentary aspect and question the notion of truth, whether or not we can believe the speakers or even the directors. They are also among the first to use digital cameras, which makes

The Last Broadcast

a witness of its time, at the end of the 1990s ”.

The "found footage" is not dead

Among the recent releases, Sarah Appleton recommends the Canadian film


, released in 2013 and unfortunately unreleased in France.

The story of two friends who film their trip around the world, until one day it takes an unexpected turn.

“It's a bit of the best of

found footage

, with a clever use of new technologies, while being an original approach to the vampire myth.


The last good

found footage


“I have to admit that when I started documentary a few years ago, I thought the genre had come to an end, with the meta

Found Footage 3D


for example

,” says Sarah Appleton.

Then Rob Savage arrived with


, his horror film on Zoom.

And its next one,


, also offers a creative approach to

found footage

, via Facebook Live.

I think that the genre will always be renewed, with new technologies, and, there, I think very strongly of virtual reality.


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