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Two countries, one passion, the COLCOA French Film Festival, now in its 21st year, recently took place in Hollywood with its most innovative program ever at the Directors Guild of America.

With a lineup of 82 films, TV and Web Films, it was jammed packed with more than 25,000 visitors seeking the latest and best in French productions.

COLCOA 2017 kicked off with a reception at the Beverly Hills home of Consul General of France in Los Angeles, Christophe Lemoine, who is an avid supporter of the French Film Fest and confirms that it is the largest French Film Festival in the world.

The visionary of COLCOA is executive producer and artistic director Francois Truffart, under the auspices of the Franco-American Cultural Fund. Truffart noted COLCOA reached a new level in 2017 with two new categories: Virtual Reality Program and a Web Film Series Competition joined with Cinema, Television and Shorts Competitions. Academy Award winning director Damian Chazelle was a special guest of the festival this year.

This stylish film festival is on the cutting edge of everything new. It was an evening of excitement at the gala opening and reception with a welcome by DGA President Taylor Hackford. Returning to COLCOA was iconic Director and Filmmaker, Academy Award winner Claude Lelouch to premiere his latest film “Everyone’s Life,” a tribute to his 50 years of cinema.

The film is certainly a diversion from his usual film style and a fresh look at many unexpected aspects of people’s everyday lives in France, especially Burgundy, with highlights reflecting Johnny Hallyday, a pop actor and singer, Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin and other known French stars. The well-received film was followed by a Q&A with Lelouch and his writing collaborator Valerie Perrin.

“There is not another French film festival better than COLCOA in the U.S., and the American public is very important for us,” noted Lelouch. “Every filmmaker in the world loves Los Angeles, where films are produced that are most seen around the world.”

This yearly French film festival has brought French actors to the attention of filmgoers and French film lovers. Last year, Omar Sy was in the spotlight, and this year his film “Two is Family,” a heartwarming comedy, was a favorite. Other French actors devoted to COLCOA include Lambert Wilson, who starred in two noteworthy films in competition: “Corporate,” a realistic study of what happens in a business when crisis and cover up occurs, and “The Odyssey” a biopic look at the legacy oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, his family, his vessel Calypso and the sea.

Another engaging biopic written and directed by Lisa Azuelos was “Dalida” starring Italian actress and model Sveva Alviti. It’s the true story of a young singing sensation in the 50’s who broke many hearts and later committed suicide in Paris; her greatest songs were a part of the film.

During the nine day festival, more than 3000 high school students and teachers from around Southern California came to the DGA to enjoy the film “A Bag of Marbles” by Director Christian Duguay. Actor Patrick Bruel was also present to discuss the film about of two young brothers during WWII and their journey for survival.

Curious visitors attended the Happy Hour Talks, sponsored by Variety, to hear a diverse panel discuss topics pertinent to films. Writer/director Stephane Brize was featured for his new film “A Woman’s Life,” opening in the U.S. this month. Based on a French novel, it’s a tragic story of a woman’s arranged marriage, doomed in the 1800’s by an unfaithful husband. Actress Judith Chemla won the 2017 French Cesar for Best Actress.

As a part of the eclectic program of new formats, the COLCOA Web Series had a separate competition for comedies, dramas and more. For the first time, its new Virtual Reality Corner offered a new approach to film viewing at 360 degrees. By way of headset with panoramic video, you feel as if you are inside the screen. There is also new interest in French TV as programs make their way to the US. This year’s television line up was a variety of thrillers, comedy and mini series; popular again was the series “My Agent.”

Everyone’s favorite actor, director and comedian Dany Boon premiered his newest comedy “R.A.I.D. Special Unit,” in which he stars opposite funny lady Alice Pol, whose character is yearning to be a member of the French SWAT Team. Failing all the tests, she still gets in. Well, why not? Her father is a government official, after all. Boon wrote the part for Alice Pol, who resembles Sandra Bullock in looks and antics. Boon was available for a Q&A in English following the film, where he noted that he trained rigorously for the part and researched the division to make the film.

A hilarious comedy ended the COLCOA French film journey, the North American premiere of “Choose Me” by Director Eric Lavaine. Starring Alexandra Lamy, the film deals with one woman’s inability to make choices in love and life to the point that she has two fiancés and can’t make a decision.

COLCOA 2017 welcomed old fans and newcomers alike, all keen on the latest French cinema. The event answers the question: what has French cinema been up to this year? One thing is certain. Los Angeles has an interest in French cinema, and COLCOA is the best place to view the latest entertaining films and classics, documentaries, shorts and television programs. Find out more at COLCOA’s official website.

COMPLETE 2017 COLCOA AWARDS

COLCOA CINEMA

AUDIENCE:
COLCOA AWARD: Mr. and Mrs. Adelman
SPECIAL PRIZE: A Bag of Marbles
SPECIAL MENTIONS: Like Crazy & A Kid

JURY:
COLCOA AWARD: A Woman’s Life
SPECIAL PRIZE: Elementary
BEST FIRST FEATURE FILM: Hedi
BEST DOCUMENTARY: Little Gems
AMERICAN STUDENT AWARD (New in 2017): Polina
COMING SOON AWARD: A Woman’s Life

COLCOA TELEVISION

AUDIENCE:
TV SERIES AWARD: Call My Agent
TV DRAMA AWARD: Plessis’ Girls
TV SERIES AWARD: Beautiful Loser
TV SERIES SPECIAL PRIZE: Midnight Sun
TV DRAMA AWARD: Marion Forever 13
TV DRAMA SPECIAL PRIZE: Box 27

COLCOA SHORTS

AUDIENCE:
COLCOA AWARD: Thank You Mister Imada
SPECIAL PRIZE: The Fisherman and the Business Man
SPECIAL MENTION: Chasse Royale

JURY:
COLCOA AWARD: Chasse Royale
SPECIAL PRIZE: What Tears Us Apart
SPECIAL MENTION: Thank You Mister Imada

COLCOA WEB SERIES
COLCOA WEB SERIES AWARD (New in 2017): Amnesia

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Barbara Singer

Barbara Singer is a veteran travel and entertainment journalist based in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. She has been a columnist for Beverly Hills Today, Passions International, Boulevard Magazine, Irish Arts & Entertainment and more. She has attended many film festivals, including Cannes, Montreal, Deauville, Santa Barbara, and L.A. Film Festival, and also contributes to many online travel magazines. She is a member of Film Independent, IWOSC, IFW&TWA and NATJA.

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