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‘Blind Date,’ ‘Last Hammer Blow’ Claim Top Prizes at COLCOA French Film Fest

Clovis Cornillac’s “Blind Date,” a romantic comedy about the unlikely relationship between a puzzle builder and a classical pianist, won the audience award at the 19th annual COLCOA French Film Festival, which wraps on Thursday, while Alix Delaporte’s “The Last Hammer Blow,” a coming-of-age drama about an impoverished youth and his estranged father, took home the fest’s LAFCA Critics Award.

Winning the audience award is a promising sign for “Blind Date,” which had its world premiere at the nine-day L.A. festival ahead of its May 6 rollout in France.

Of “The Last Hammer Blow,” the Los Angeles Film Critics Association jury stated collectively that its decision was “unanimous in our esteem of this visually stunning, restrained piece of cinema,” and that the film “was emotionally rich yet narratively spare.”

Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar’s “Once in a Lifetime,” about the travails of an inner-city school teacher, claimed both the Critics Special Prize and the Audience Special Prize.

In the documentary category, Frank Ribière’s “Steak (R)evolution,” about the evolving market for high-end beef, took the top prize; while Frédéric Tellier’s “SK1,” about the hunt for a serial killer, won the first feature award. Both films will be released in the U.S. by Kino Lorber.

The COLCOA Coming Soon Award, given in association with KPCC 89.3 to a film presented with an attached U.S. distributor, went to Eric Toledano & Olivier Nakache’s “Samba,” a comedic expose on the plight of illegal immigrants that will be released in the U.S. later this year by Broad Green Pictures.

The festival’s first-ever TV competition resulted in two winners: Bourlem Guerdjou’s “Danbé” (best TV movie) and Frédéric Jardin’s “Spiral” Season 5 (best TV series).

Alexis Michalik’s “Grounded” won both the jury and the audience award in the Short Film Competition, also a first.

The nine-day festival, sponsored by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, set a record attendance of 21,200 at the Directors Guild of America headquarters, site of the festivities.

 A complete list of the awards:

COLCOA CINEMA

Audience Award: BLIND DATE

Audience Special Prize: ONCE IN A LIFETIME

Audience Special Mention: MEMORIES

Critics Award: THE LAST HAMMER BLOW

Critics Special Prize: ONCE IN A LIFETIME

Critics Special Mention NUMBER ONE FAN

First Feature Award: SK1

Best Documentary Award: STEAK (R)EVOLUTION

Coming Soon Award: SAMBA

COLCOA TELEVISION

Best TV Movie Award: DANBE

Best TV Series Award: SPIRAL (ENGRENAGES)

 COLCOA SHORT FILMS

 Jury Short Film Award: GROUNDED

Jury Short Film Special Prize: CHAUD LAPIN

Jury Short Film Special Mentions: MY SENSE OF MODESTY  & THE TESTICLE

Audience Short Film Award: GROUNDED

Audience Short Film Special Prize: SMART MONKEY

Jury Short Film Special Mentions: WHO’S UP?

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