How chic is this? A French film festival right in the heart of Hollywood. It’s City of Lights, City of Angeles (COLCOA), a week of French film premieres. It’s the second largest in the world, hosted by the Directors Guild of America and a wonderful relationship of culture between France and American, joined together by films.
It’s easy to fall in love with COLCOA; it’s a spectacular happening. Each year so many people return and link with other French film fans who are drawn here.
The huge COLCOA Festival banner welcomed everyone as French directors, producers and actors arrived in Los Angeles with their passion for films to premiere their latest projects. All who attended consider this festival an ideal atmosphere to enjoy the best new cinema from France. This year brought 57 features and documentaries, including 19 short films.
A gala reception preceded the opening film, a celebration with wine, champagne and local restaurant tastings. The audience was a cross generation of industry professionals, critics and journalists, actors and French film lovers. This was the place for French to meet and greet Americans and the French community.
On this special occasion, the French Consul General/Los Angeles Axel Cruau acknowledged and praised Francois Truffart, Executive Producer and Artistic Director of COLCOA, and its active participants for their ongoing commitment to French movies. Consul General Cruau expressed to the guests, “It is a great honor for me to be here tonight to celebrate the 17th anniversary of a major rendezvous for French cinema overseas.”
He referenced the talents of young filmmakers and new film programs, including World Cinema Produced in France director/co-writer Daniele Thompson, a Woody Allen admirer, who opened the festival with her new comedy “It Happened in Saint Tropez.” The film deals with a dysfunctional Jewish family facing love, death, marriage and all the complications.
It was a great film to kick off the week. She received a warm welcome from the crowd and participated in a Q & A following the film with young rising star Lou de Laage, the French beauty who starred in the film.
In the style of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, press sessions now follow early morning screenings. I have had the pleasure of attending many press sessions at twelve Cannes Film Festivals and two Deauville Festivals, where American films are premiered in France. Press sessions offer insight into the filmmakers’ vision and point of view for their films.
Daniele Thompson and Lou de Laage attended the morning press session with Stephane Brize following his screening of “A Few Hours of Springs,” dealing with assisted dying of the elderly. COLCOA’s Producer of the Year focused on Ann Dominique Toussaint, a multi-award winner and President of France’s Association of Cinema Producers. Her delightful film “Cycling with Moliere” was lauded by the festival.
Popular French actor Lambert Wilson, who could well be the Brad Pitt of France, appeared in two festival films, “Cycling with Moliere” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by revered director/film writer, Alain Resnais, still active at 91 years old, who was festival honoree for Focus on a Filmmaker 2013. His classic film “Hiroshima Mon Amour” is one of my all time favorite French films.
Both of the festival films deal with actors and theatre, and both are unique presentations. Mr. Wilson attended the press session with director/writer Philippe Le Guay and the tribute, where Resnais’ 1974 film “Stavisky”played, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo. Here in an intimate setting was an opportunity to have a candid rapport with the filmmakers and film critics.
Local private and public high school, college and university students were invited to view special films and participate in a Q & A following the film “Jappeloup,” written and performed by Guillaume Canet. It’s based on the life of show horse jumper Pierre Durand and his unexpected career by taking a chance with his horse Jappeloup.
This screening and others were an opportunity for a younger generation to learn about French cinema. This is a festival of love – the love of French films, its actors and directors and the fans that turn out daily to fill the theatres. It’s also the place to attract film buyers and distributors, who can view films with a captive audience. COLCOA treats its audiences like family with early morning breakfast, afternoon wine receptions, and a gigantic anniversary birthday cake to honor the annual festival.
Prolific French actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin was on hand with director Anna Nouvin to premiere his new film “Rendezvous in Kiruna” filmed in Sweden. It follows a man who goes on a journey to identify his dead son, whom he never knew, along with a young Swedish hitchhiker as a companion.
The 2013 COLCOA Festival Winners:
COLCOA Critics Award: “A Few Hours of Spring” by Stephane Brize
Audience Award/Critics Special Price/Coming Soon Award: “The Attack” by Ziad Doueiri
Audience Special Price Awards: “Haute Cuisine” by Christian Vincent (my #1 favorite)
First Feature Award: “Populaire” by Regis Roinsard
Audience Special Mention: “What’s in a Name” by de la Patellierei & Delaporte (my #2 favorite)
COLCOA Special Mention: “In the House” by Francois Ozon
COLCOA Documentary Award: “Becoming Traviata” by Philippe Beziat
COLCOA Short Film Awards: “The Lizards”
Audience Choice Awards: “City of Light” & “A La Francaise”
Short Film Special Prize: “Just Before Losing Everything”
Special Mention: “My Sweetheart” & “Kiki of Monparnasse”
In addition, a lucky audience participant won a trip to Paris for two in a week-long contest that was sponsored by TV5 Monde and Air Tahiti Nui.
One thing is certain from the crowds at COLCOA, Los Angeles loves French films. This festival has become an important venue to market new French films.
Find out everything you want to know about this awesome French film festival at www.COLCOA.org.