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 the U.S. and to showcasing the vitality and the diversity of French cinema in Hollywood: comedies and dramas, box office hits in France and novelties, first features and films from established writer-directors, art house movies as well as mainstream films.
Last week we had an interview with Francois Truffart, Director of COL.COA.
Bijan Tehrani: What’s new at COL•COA 2012?
Francois Truffart: This year, we are expecting about 20,000 people! We are showcasing new works from French cinema, of course, and we have a great selection for film fans to enjoy.
BT: From what I have heard this will be the strongest year yet for COL•COA, in terms of films that are coming to the festival.
FT: Exactly. We have a very strong line up this year, which reflects the quality and the diversity of French cinema. Obviously this was the case beforehand, but this is a very good year in terms of productions and the quality of film, and they can now be seen overseas and be shown to American audiences. This comes right after the triumph of “The Artist”, one of the films that we had, and we are now happy to bring some new films to Hollywood. Whatever kinds of films we show, we are always very excited to see dramas, comedies, first features and art house pictures—the films we have are very intriguing this year.
BT: When does the festival start and how many days will it go on for?
FT: The Opening Night Gala will be on April 16th, and the festival lasts eight days until the Award Screening on the 23rd.
BT: How can audiences get in to see the films?
FT: They have to go on the website, COLCOA.org, where the program is already available and they can buy tickets online.
BT: Are there any US premieres in the festival?
FT: Yes, we have North American premieres which include Canada and Mexico, and about ten U.S. premieres including the opening film, My Way. We have a special presentation, which will show Farewell My Queen, a film from Benoit Jacquot, which won the COL•COA critics prize last year. He has a new film coming out in the fall and he will go to San Francisco right after this. The film is also the opening film in San Francisco’s festival. We have about 34 features, including 29 new films premièring at COL•COA.
BT: Please tell us about the High School screening programs and your plans for those events this year.
FT: We have had this special program for four years, and I think this is the sixth year that we have had an educational program in the festival. This educational program is made of screenings for high school and a series of master classes. We have master classes for film schools, and what we call a student screening, which is open to any student from high school or college. The High School program is the biggest one; we have four screening during the week and about 70 American high schools are coming to COL•COA, which is about 2,500 students coming from schools in L.A. County, Orange County, and even some as far as Palm Springs. This is a very popular, successful program and it is a good way for them to discover foreign films and learn from the big screen. This program is sponsored by ELMA (European languages and Movies in America)
BT: Are any guest filmmakers coming to the festival this year?
FT: Yes, we have filmmakers and actors as well. Most of the films will be followed by Q&A sessions, so this is an important and good opportunity to meet the talent. I should remind your readers that one of the goals of COL•COA is to promote French talent in Hollywood, and we are very proud because some of the recent nominees of the Academy Awards, like Marion Cotillard, made their first public appearance at COL•COA. Another example is this year’s Academy Award Winner for Best Actor, Jean Dujardin; he had nine films at COL•COA and, as your audience includes industry professionals and members of the Academy, a lot of people knew Jean Dujardin thanks to COL•COA. We are now considered one of the most important French festivals in the world, and we are very proud. This year, about 40% of our films will get a US distributor because they know that COL•COA is a great platform to release their films in the US.
BT: That is proof of your success. Thanks for taking the time to inform our readers about the exciting events of COL•COA.