French fest makes best of missing stars

The cloud of volcanic ash may have kept several French film bizzers from being able to get to the opening of the City of Lights, City of Angels festival, but it was a full house nonetheless for the North American premiere of IFC romantic comedy “Heartbreaker.”

After the preem, screenwriter Jeremy Doner was on hand at the DGA for a Q&A, while stranded helmer Pascal Chaumeil beamed in via Skype. Among the Francophiles toasting the fest’s 14th year were producer Ron Yerxa, Strand’s Marcus Hu and Jon Gerrans, Paris Barclay and Jacqueline Bisset, and somehow French filmmakers Claude Miller and Emmanuel Mouret managed to find ways to get to Hollywood on Monday.

Repping the DGA, Betty Thomas cracked up the aud with butchered French, while MPAA prexy Bob Pisano reaffirmed the importance of “protecting the fruits of creativity.”

Scribe Howard Rodman exhorted the aud to “give it up for the avant-garde, to the people who invented the word,” while L.A.-based French consul general David Martinon proclaimed the fest “a good vintage, with the taste of Iceland.”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more