THE FRENCH ARE COMING FILMS FROM FRANCE DEBUT IN L.A. STARTING TONIGHT AT FESTIVAL.
The 11th annual City of Lights, City of Angels French Film Week begins tonight with the Los Angeles premiere of "La Vie En Rose," the internationally acclaimed biopic of singing legend Edith Piaf.
Through Sunday, 20 new feature films and an equal number of short subjects from France will make their L.A. debuts at the Directors Guild Theaters on Sunset Boulevard. Panel discussions, filmmaker Q&As, live talent appearances and, of course, wine-and-cheese receptions are among other events scheduled.
COLCOA offers a representative survey of the previous year in Gallic cinema. Festival director Francois Truffart chooses from approximately 180 movies France produces in a given year.
"Diversity of selection is one of our goals," Truffart says. "We know that there is not only one audience for French films. We have the tradition of very artistic, auteur films in France. But it is my opinion that even in a mainstream film, you can have quality. It's not a question of being intellectual or not intellectual, but I would say that they are films for a large audience, and this is what I tried to show."
This year's COLCOA indeed covers a wide range, from tonight's Piaf film -- which also opened the prestigious Berlin Film Festival and screens at COLCOA again on Thursday -- to Bruno Dumont's demanding Cannes Film Festival award-winner "Flanders," to "Paris, je t'aime," a collection of vignettes set in different districts of the capital and shot by filmmakers from all over the world.
There are also romantic comedies, love stories, political dramas, documentaries, Friday night's program of films noir ... yep, something for all Francophilic tastes.
COLCOA is also the place to catch up with recent work by world-renowned actors such as Gerard Depardieu, Audrey Tautou, Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Beart, Andre Dussollier, Sandrine Bonnaire, Jean Rochefort and Nathalie Baye, among many others.
But Truffart says that it's just as much a discovery festival.
"I think it's very important for the COLCOA audience, which is mainly composed of film industry professionals, because they can see some very, very exciting new talents and new ideas," he says.
To that end, members of certain Hollywood guilds, as well as organizations such as Film Independent and the American Cinematheque, can get a $3 discount on each $10 ticket (check www.colcoa.com for eligible organizations and all other festival information). Seniors older than 62 also get the $3 discount, and students and people younger than 21 get in for $5 per film.
Happy Hour Talks, sponsored by the trade paper Variety on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, are free with a ticket purchase that day (and yes, wine and cheese is included). Programming on Sunday is free.
"The festival in Los Angeles is becoming more and more important," says Truffart, who notes that there's been an uptick in North American distribution of French titles. "Professionals have the opportunity to audience-test films and promote films that they've already bought.
"We have a lot of agents coming to look for new talent, and also producers interested in buying remake rights. It's very attractive for the industry."
Of course, you don't have to work in show business to appreciate one of the most distinguished national cinemas on Earth.
"People can not only find what they want to see at COLCOA, but they can see something they may not have expected to and enjoy it," Truffart says.
"City of Lights, City of Angels," runs tonight through Sunday at the Directors Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd., L.A. Tickets are available in the DGA lobby (cash or checks only) and at www.colcoa.org. Information and showtimes are available at the Web site. For limited information, call (310) 289-5346.
(1) Starting tonight with "La Vie En Rose," and running through Sunday, 20 new feature films and an equal number of short subjects from France will make their L.A. debuts at the 11th annual City of Lights, City of Angels French Film Week at the Directors Guild Theaters. Panel discussions, filmmaker Q&As, live talent appearances and wine-and-cheese receptions are among other events scheduled.
"HORS DE PRIX"
(2) "LA VIE EN ROSE"
(3) "ENSEMBLE, C'EST TOUT"