COLCOA French Film Festival at the Director’s Guild of America in Los Angeles, CA.

How chic is this……..a French film festival right in the heart of Hollywood.

It’s COLCOA, an acronym for City of Lights (Paris), City of Angels (Los Angeles), where “French films and TV series shine”. It’s the largest French Film Festival in the world and its host is the Directors Guild of America (DGA). This is a festival of love–the love of French cinema, where the directors and actors premiere the newest films and TV series from France.

Fans fill the DGA theatres daily, joined by distributors and press for nine days. I have attended the Cannes Film Festival for twelve years, so it was a delight to discover this all-French cinema festival in Hollywood that has continued to capture my interest now for the last six years.

Year after year for 21 years COLCOA has made an impact on Hollywood attracting the French community, French film lovers and thousands of students. This year’s festival attracted a record-breaking attendance of 25,000 visitors to see the 70 films plus television and Web films that were premiered from early morning to late at night.

Hollywood with its past glamour and decadence is worth a visit, so when in Paris visit the  Champs Elyse and when in Hollywood stop by the Hollywood Walk of Fame with its star-studded memories down Hollywood Blvd.  Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, once owned by impresario Sid Grauman, has always been a beloved movie palace for movie premieres and today it continues the legacy as Mann’s Chinese Theatre.

COLCOA 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. I am completely absorbed by French films and this is definitely the place to see the best in April of every year.

COLCOA 2017 got under way with a kick-off reception at the Beverly Hills home of Christophe Lemoine, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, an avid supporter of the French Film Fest and who confirmed it was the largest French Film Festival in the world. The visionary of COLCOA is its Executive Producer and Artistic Director, Francois Truffart, under the auspices of the Franco-American Cultural Fund.

French Consul General Christophe Lemoine and COLCOA Executive Director Francois Truffart. Photo by Barbara Singer.

At the Renoir Theater, DGA President Taylor Hackford welcomed Academy Award winner Claude Lelouch to premiere his latest film “Everyone’s Life,” a tribute to his 50 years of filmmaking. He said people continually remind him of his famed film “A Man and a Woman” winning two

Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film and Best Screenplay. This 79-year old French director has a passion for films and is always seeking ideas for new films.

His new film story is a diversion from Lelouch’s usual style and offers a fresh look at many unexpected aspects of people’s everyday lives in France, especially in Burgundy region, with highlights reflecting Johnny Hallyday, a French actor and pop singer, Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin and other 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. Every filmmaker in the world loves Los Angeles where films are produced that are most seen around the world,” said Lelouch.

At last year’s festival, Omar Sy was in the spotlight for “Monsieur Chocolat,” a spectacular opening film by writer and director Roschdy Zem following the life of France’s first Black clown, who faced a lifetime of prejudice as he sought fame, fortune and freedom. This year, Sy’s new film “Two is Family,” a heartwarming comedy, was another favorite.

Other French actors devoted to COLCOA included Lambert Wilson, who starred in two noteworthy films in competition: “Corporate, a realistic study of what happens in a business at onset of crisis and cover up and “The Odyssey” a biopic look at oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, the man, his family, his vessel Calypso and the sea. Lambert Wilson could well be the Brad Pitt of France, with boyish good looks and strong English accent, acquired from his studies in England; he is continually in demand for making new films.

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

During the nine-day festival more than 3,000 high school students and teachers from around Southern California came to the DGA to see the film “A Bag of Marbles” by Director Christian Duguay, with actor Patrick Bruel present to discuss the film about of two young brothers during World War II and their journey for survival, as well as discussions about French filmmaking.

At one of the Happy Hour Talks, writer/director Stephane Brize was featured for his new film “A Woman’s Life,” which opens in the U.S. this month. It is a tragic story of woman’s arranged marriage, doomed by an unfaithful husband.  Its star, Judith Chemla, won the 2017 French Cesar for Best Actress.

Everyone’s favorite actor, director, comedian Dany Boon premiered his newest comedy “R.A.I.D. Special Unit.” He stars opposite funny lady Alice Pol, whose character is yearning to be a member of a French SWAT Team. Failing all the tests, she still gets in. Well, why not, her father is a government official. Boon wrote the part for Pol, who resembles Sandra Bullock in looks and antics. At the Q&A, Boon said he trained rigorously for his part and even researched how the SWAT team operated.

A hilarious comedy ended the COLCOA French film journey with 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 choice.