City of Lights, City of Angels (COL•COA) was created in 1996 by The Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique collaborative effort of the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Association, the Writers Guild of America West, and France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM). COL•COA is also supported by l’Association des Auteurs-Réalisateurs-Producteurs (ARP), the Film and TV Office of the French Embassy in Los Angeles and UNIFRANCE.
COL•COA is committed to promoting new French films in Hollywood and to showcasing the vitality and the diversity of French cinema: comedies and dramas, box office hits in France and novelties, first features and films from confirmed writer-directors, art house movies as well as mainstream films. In 14 years, 202 new feature films and 140 new shorts have been selected. COL•COA has constantly developed to become a showcase of at least 50 films, with a capacity of 17,100 in 2010 and an occupancy rate of 87.4%.
We have interviewed, COLCOA festival director, François Truffart about 2011 festival.
Bijan Tehrani: Please tell us about the 2011 version of the COLCOA and should we expect exciting event like every year?
Francois Truffart: Well this is the 15th anniversary of COLCOA, and it is obviously a very special year for us and we are very, very, happy to announce that we will have a lot of attendees waiting for the event since last year. COLCOA is now a much anticipated event and of course organizing it is challenge. But we have a very high profile line up for the audience and I have to say that we are pretty much happy with the program this year again. It’s going to be certainly a big year for ColCoa.
BT: How many feature films will we see this year?
FT: This year we will have 34 feature films, and additionally we will screen 26 short and among the 34 feature films, five of them are classic films. Therefore 29 new French films will be shown at COLCOA 2011, including two world premieres, and several North American and US premieres.
BT: Are there any events that are happening on the site of the festival beside the actual screenings?
FT: We have events at the DGA everyday for the people attending the festival, for example if they can attend our series of panels during the afternoon, “Happy Hour Talks”, this is a white wine and cheese reception, and we also have cocktails in the evening. On Wednesday the 13th of April there is a special cocktail for the evening anniversary for the audience attending screening of My Piece of the Pie.
BT: You had a very interesting event every year where you showed French films for high school student, will you be having this event this year too?
FT: Of course yes, we do it in association with ELMA, it’s still a big project for us and it is actually getting bigger every year. We will have more than 2000 students and teachers attending the screening this year and the idea is to show them new films from French cinema. We have four screenings in the morning and we have 40 schools coming from everywhere in Los Angeles County to this event. , We also have two master classes this year, master classes are targeted towards people form Universities, Colleges and film schools, therefore I think about 3,500 students will attend COLCOA and this is a big part of the our festival and we are very proud of it.
BT: Please tell us a little bit more about your master classes?
FT: Master class is two films shown during the week at ColCoa but we want to invite students for special screenings dedicated specifically to them. We have two films, the first one is one of the classic series it is a historic film called The 317th Platoon which is a very important film about war, directed by Pierre Schoendoerffer and he will attend the master class in person. He is going to have a Q&A with the audience after the screening. This event will be held on Tuesday 12th and on Wednesday 13th of April we will have Bertran Blier introducing his new film The Clink of Ice and will have a class after that, all master classes will be held at DGA.
BT: Are there guests from France, such as filmmaker and stars attending the festival?
FT: Yes, the director of the opening film, Service Entrance (Les Femmes du 6ème étage), Phillipe Le Guay is coming from Paris. His film is the only French film in competition at La Berniale, and the film will be released in the United States, it’s an amazing piece with Frabice Luchini. Another director attending the festival will be Maurice Barthelemy, Maurice will be in town for his latest film, Low Cost, it will be a world premiere at COLCOA even before its French release. Low Cost is a comedy in the tradition of the Naked Gun or Airplane kind of film, it will be shown Tuesday the April 12th. We also have Bertran Blier, the director of The Clink of Ice which is coming for a special tribute and focus on filmmakers on Thursday, also on Friday two filmmaker will attend the screenings at the festival; Nicole Garcia is coming for A View of Love screening and later on Friday evening we will have a very important screening with Claude Lelouch and Claude will be with us for a Q&A after the screening of What Love May Bring, his new film. On Saturday we have a very important North America premiere of a film called, Beautiful Lies and the writer/director of the film Pierre Salvadori will be at COLCOA with one of his actresses in the film Nathalie Baye. We have a closing film in competition on Sunday and this is a new Dany Boon film it is a comedy it’s called Nothing to Declare, this is a North American premiere, and the film is already a huge success in France and Dany Boon will attend the festival as well. We have another very important screening on Saturday night with a very, very amazing film called Angele & Tony, and the director is a woman filmmaker called Alix Delaporte; she will be at the festival for the presentation of this film. So we have pretty much a big delegation attending COLCOA this year.
BT: I think French cinema has gone through an interesting turn during the past few years and French film industry is trying to make film that are more appealing to the mainstream audiences. But of course you still see the elements and values of French intellectual cinema in different levels in those films. Do you see think this change will help French films to get theatrical releases in the US?
FT: Well I think you are right, there was an image about French Cinema, an idea that French cinema was very intellectual and very formulaic and this actually has never been true. You always had some entertaining film’s produced in France, but until recently they were much focused on the French market. You are right about the point you are making and as a programmer of COLCOA, I have witnessed that in recent years that producers, writers and directors in France have made very entertaining films aimed towards large audiences and international market, and I think that COLCOA has played its part to promote such films. But French film industry produces all kind of movies, you don’t have only one kind of audience for French films, actually we can see films at our festival that there are specific audiences for different types of films and we are very proud to be able to show the diversity of the French cinema.
Let me use this opportunity to tell your readers about an additional screening night that we have this year at COLCOA. This year festival will not close on Sunday, but on Monday. These two screenings that will allow the audience to see two films that have been awarded by our jury. So these are free screenings on Monday the 18th of April and audiences could get into the theater based on first come, first serve. We also have a program called morning re-run in the morning screenings during the week and we will offer free breakfast everyday from Monday through Sunday starting at 11am.