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Gallienne’s ‘Mum’ and Lelouch’s ‘Bastard’ Among French Pic Premieres at Colcoa Fest

City of Lights, City of Angels fest serves up French film sampler, blending mainstream fare and auteur offerings

Angelenos will have a chance to discover Guillaume Gallienne’s “Me, Myself and Mum” — the film that beat “Blue Is the Warmest Color” to win the French industry’s top prize, the Cesar — and 40 other Gallic pics at this year’s City of Lights, City of Angels festival, unspooling April 21-28 at L.A.’s Directors Guild Theater.

Now in its 18th year, the premiere-powered showcase serves up a mix of new talent and old masters, including the latest from Oscar winner Claude Lelouch (“A Man and a Woman”), whose “We Love You, You Bastard” will open the event. This year’s edition also boasts new features from Francois Ozon (“Young and Beautiful”), Catherine Breillat (“Abuse of Weakness”), Francois Dupeyron (“One of a Kind”), Paris-based Roman Polanski (“Venus in Fur”) and Cedric Klapisch (“Chinese Puzzle”), the subject of an in-depth Focus on a Filmmaker spotlight on April 24. Klapisch’s producer, Bruno Levy, will receive a similar Focus two days later.

While such helmers have made a strong showing on the festival circuit this past year, Colcoa programmers are equally concerned with bringing more populist French fare to the American industry’s attention, screening thrillers, comedies and mainstream dramas alongside the more rarefied work of recognized auteurs. For example, attendees will have a chance to catch the international premiere of “The Last Diamond,” a heist pic starring Berenice Bejo, as well as the first North American screening of Dany Boon’s new hit laffer, “Superchondriac,” in which the comic reunites with “Welcome to the Sticks” co-star Kad Merad.

For pics like these, the language is practically the only thing that distinguishes such hyper-accessible work from their American-made counterparts. Consider “Babysitting,” a found-footage comedy that blends aspects of U.S. laffers “Project X” and “Fun Size.” This and several other selections — including Lucas Belvaux’s “Not My Type” and Lisa Azuelos’ “Quantum Love” — actually screen at Colcoa on or before their opening dates back home. Others reach Los Angeles having already garnered significant acclaim in France, which could be said for Albert Dupontel’s “9-Month Stretch,” winner of two Cesars (for screenplay and lead actress Sandrine Kiberlain.

In its capacity as a matchmaker between French and American bizzers, Colcoa traditionally attracts producers and agents open to signing or working with overseas talent, putting these parties in the same room with eight days of screenings, panels and networking functions. Organizers have also added a documentary competition, in which Jean-Albert Lievre’s “Flore,” Kaven Bakhtiari’s “Stop-Over,” Olivier Peyon’s “How I Came to Hate Math” and Pascal Plisson’s Cesar-blessed “On the Way to School” vie for the prize.

Two closing-night premieres will be announced the first day of the fest.

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