Recognizing television as the New Frontier of creative expression on both sides of the Atlantic, the 19th annual COLCOA French Film Festival, running April 20-28, has introduced a new competition dedicated to films and series produced for the smallscreen.

Underscoring the medium’s importance to the festival and its industry patrons both here and abroad, COLCOA’s closing offering will be filled by the international premiere of TV competition entry “White Soldier,” from director Erick Zonca (“Dreamlife of Angels”), which examines the French role in colonial Vietnam circa 1945. The co-closer, which will be the final film in competition, will be announced on the fest’s opening night.

The fest, backed by the Franco-American Cultural Fund and hosted by the DGA at its Sunset Boulevard headquarters in Los Angeles, will open with the North American Premiere of “A Perfect Man,” a thriller about literary plagiarism starring recent Cesar-winning actor Pierre Niney (“Yves Saint Laurent”).

In all, a record 68 offerings — including 41 narrative features and documentaries, 20 shorts, as well as movie classics and TV episodes — will comprise the program. Many of the entries are timed close to their French release date, including the world premiere of the romantic comedy “Blind Date,” the feature directorial debut of actor-turned-filmmaker Clovis Cornillac, who also stars.

Animation will also join the competition this year, distinguished by the U.S. premiere of Pascal Morelli’s “108 Demon-Kings,” which mixes live action with 2D and 3D animation.

The TV competition will include the North American premiere of “Chefs”; the U.S. premiere of “Spiral” (aka Engrenages) and the international premiere of “Templeton,” with the first two episodes of each series being shown.

“We decided to initiate a mixed program of selections made for both cinema and television, one of the first in the United States, not only because of the evolution of the market, the industry and film viewers’ habits, but also because American directors, writers and now distributors — who are an invaluable part of our audience — are involved in both fields,” said François Truffart, COLCOA executive producer and artistic director, in a statement.

Among the more established names in the program are Anne Fontaine (“Gemma Bovery”), Patrice Leconte (“Do Not Disturb”), André Techiné (“In the Name of My Daughter”) and Michel Hazanavicius, the Oscar-winning director of “The Artist” who will unveil his latest, “The Search,” featuring “Artist” star Bérénice Bejo. Hazanavicius will also be the subject of COLCOA’s Focus on a Filmmaker program on April 23, when his “OSS 117, Cairo Nest of Spies,” also featuring Bejo and her “Artist” co-star Jean Dujardin, will be screened. (Dujardin’s new film, “The Connection,” will be part of the fest’s Film Noir Series, this year celebrating its 10th anniversary.)

Rising talents include César winner Thomas Cailley (Cannes Directors’ Fortnight sensation “Love at First Fight”) and the aptly named Frank Ribière (high-end beef doc “Steak (R) Evolution”).

Notable among the competing docs is “Cartoonists, Foot Soldiers of Democracy,” a global examination of political cartoons and a seeming homage to the Charlie Hebdo journalists murdered in Paris in January, from writer-director Stéphanie Valloatto. Also vying for the doc prize is “Of Men and War,” which chronicles a dozen Iraq war vets being treated for PTSD from writer-director Laurent Bécue-Renard.

The Franco-American Cultural Fund consists of a partnership of the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Association, France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music, and the Writers Guild of America, West. All screenings are in French with English subtitles with the exception of “Of Men and War” and “108 Demon-Kings,” both being presented in English.