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The 20th COLCOA French Film Fest Kicks Off with ‘Monsieur Chocolat’

The COLCOA French Film Festival (April 18-26) is celebrating its 20th year with its most ambitious program yet, bolstered by it’s first-ever TV competition, four world premieres, a special tribute to writer-director Jean-Paul Rappeneau, and the U.S. premiere of Nicolas Boukhrief’s home-grown terrorism thriller, “Made in France,” which was not theatrically released in France due to sensitivity following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.

L.A.’s annual French-language showcase, conveniently held under one roof at the DGA headquarters on Sunset Blvd. and designed as a promotional exchange between the French and U.S. film industries, will open with Roschdy Zem’s “Monsieur Chocolat,” about France’s most famous black circus performer during the Belle Epoque era, starring Omar Sy, who toplined the 2011 boxoffice smash, “The Untouchables.”

The closing offering will be Laurent Tirard’s “Up For Love,” a romantic comedy starring Oscar winner Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”). Dujardin will also be seen in fest regular Claude Lelouch’s new film, “Un plus Une.”

“This 20th anniversary deserves a spectacular, strong program that reflects the diversity of French production, as well as the creativity and dynamism of French filmmakers and producers,” said François Truffart, COLCOA exec producer and artistic director, in a statement. “More than ever, we are about to involve audiences in a journey that will stir them, make them laugh, cry, tickle their curiosity, and help them remain optimistic, while recognizing the urgent world zeitgeist.”

In addition to Lelouch and Rappeneau, who is bringing his first film since 2003, “Families,” to COLCOA, other established French filmmakers in the program include Christian Carion (“Come What May”), Anne Fontaine (“The Innocents”), Vincent Garencq (“Kalinka”), Christian Vincent (“Courted”) and Maïwenn (“My King”).

Among the new-generation talents represented, many of which will be part of the fest’s French NeWave 2.0 Series, include Philippe Faucon with “Fatima,” which won the top Cesars award for best film award, Samuel Collardey (“Land Legs”), Clément Cogitor (“Neither Heaven Nor Earth”), Emmanuel Finkiel (“A Decent Man”), Eva Husson (“Bang Gang”), Laurent Larivière (“I Am a Soldier”) and Orelsan and Christophe Offenstein (“Uncompleted Song”).

The TV competiton, which will include five TV movies, will close with “Call My Agent,” France’s highly popular series about a talent agency with actors playing their own roles.

The narrative feature and documentary competitions will be determined by members of the L.A. Film Critics Association, while the fest’s short film and TV competitions will be judged by separate juries.

The non-fiction program will include the Cannes closer “Ice and the Sky” from Oscar winner Luc Jacquet (“March of the Penguins”), and the Cesar-winning doc, “Tomorrow,” written and directed by Cédric Dion and Mélanie Laurent.

Among the classics being shown at the fest include digitally restored versions of Rappeneau’s “A Matter of Resistance” (1965), starring Catherine Deneuve and Philippe Noiret (a Happy Hour Talk panel will be dedicated to the writer-director’s work); Barbet Schroeder’s “More” (1969), originally banned in France and featuring a score by Pink Floyd; and Alexander Korda’s “Marius” (1931), based on a play by Marcel Pagnol from his Marseilles trilogy.

COLCOA, originally known as the City of Lights, City of Angels Film Fest, is sponsored by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, 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, with support of L’ARP (France’s Association of Authors, Directors and Producers), the CNC, the Los Angeles Film and TV Office of the French Embassy, TV France International and Unifrance.

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