DGA headquarters in Los Angeles was once again the venue for lovers of French cinema with the arrival of the 16th City of Lights • City of Angels Film Festival (COL•COA) during the week of April 16-23. Since its debut in 1997, this annual week of French films has presented more than 400 full-length features and shorts and showcased the vitality and diversity of the third largest film industry in the world. The 2012 COL•COA was no exception, with a schedule that boasted 55 features and short films presented for the first time in Los Angeles, including several U.S. and North American premieres.
COL•COA is presented by the Franco-American Cultural Fund (FACF) a unique collaboration of the DGA, the Motion Picture Association, Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM), and the Writers Guild of America, West. 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.
The festival began with an opening night gala on April 16, attended by FACF VIPs, film fans and directors, writers, and actors whose work would be viewed in the coming week.
“The DGA is proud to support this festival through the FACF which was created to further the mutuality among writers and directors, actors, producers and cineastes of our two countries,” said DGA and FACF Board Member Michael Mann in his welcome to the opening night audience. “The Fund makes possible this festival, which has grown into the second largest French film festival in the world.”
The opening night included the North American premiere of My Way (Cloclo), a musical biopic of singer-songwriter Claude Francois, the '60s French cultural icon who wrote the song that later became the Sinatra classic, "My Way." After the screening, My Way director and co-writer Florent Emilio Siri (Hostage), engaged in a discussion about the film moderated by DGA President Taylor Hackford.
On April 19, as part of this year’s COL•COA Happy Hour Talks, a weeklong series of panel discussions that presented topics of interest to industry professionals and cinephiles, the festival honored Director Julie Delpy in its annual Focus on a Filmmaker event. The festivities included the premiere of her new film Le Skylab, a special screening of her previous feature 2 Days in Paris, and a conversation with Delpy about her career moderated by Variety Senior Film Critic Peter Debruge.
Other Happy Hour Talks included: Directors Florent-Emilio Siri, Lucas Belvaux (38 Witnesses), Benoît Jacquot (Farewell My Queen), Rémi Bezançon (Zarafa), Muriel Coulin (17 Girls), Mathieu Demy (Americano), writer Vanessa Portal (A Happy Event) and actor Jeremie Renier (My Way) speaking with Variety Executive Editor Steven Gaydos about American Cinema and how it has influenced them; a discussion of how foreign film distributors are now diversifying their acquisitions to target more mainstream audiences with Suzanne Blech (Screen Media), Greg Laemmle (Laemmle Theaters), Richard Lorber (Kino Lorber), Tim Palmer (Film Matters), Gary Rubin (The Cohen Media Group), and Ryan Werner (IFC Films) and moderated by Unifrance USA Executive Director John Kochman; and a tribute to the late actor/singer Yves Montand with author Carole Amiel (Lettres à Montand), film critic Steven Farber, Cinémathèque Française General Director Serge Toubiana and moderated by film critic Wade Major following the West Coast premiere of a digitally restored print of the classic film Call Me Savage (Le Sauvage).
Other 2012 highlights included the return of the ever-popular COL•COA Classics, an early afternoon series of classic films, one of which presented a screening of Marcel Carné’s iconic 1938 romantic drama Hôtel Du Nord, selected by DGA Director-member Alexander Payne (The Descendants).
Below, view photos from the 2012 COL•COA opening night gala.