Emmanuel Mouret’s “Love Affair(s),” Samir Guesmi’s “Ibrahim” and Elie Wajeman’s “Night Doctor” won top prizes at Colcoa, the French film and TV festival.
The festival, which marked its 25th edition, wrapped at the DGA on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles on Nov. 7. It was attended by 14,000 people.
The festival, programmed by Francois Truffart, is organized by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, a collaboration between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Motion Picture Association (MPA), The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) and France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM).
Colcoa shifted its spring dates to the fall in 2019 as the DGA was being renovated and is now ideally positioned at the start of the awards season in the U.S. The awards ceremony took place at the SACEM headquarters near Paris in the presence of many honorees, notably Guesmi and “Love Affair(s)” producer Frédéric Niedermayer, as well as industry figures such as Cannes’ Marché du Film boss Jerome Paillard and Howard Rodman, the WGA West VP.
“Love Affair(s)” won the critics prize. Like “Ibrahim,” the movie was part of the Cannes 2020 official selection. It weaves together a series of romantic tales exploring love, friendship and infidelity with an ensemble cast including Camelia Jordana, Niels Schneider, Vincent Macaigne, Émilie Dequenne and Julia Piaton. “Love Affair(s)” previously earned 13 Cesar awards nominations and won Dequenne a best supporting actress nod.
“Ibrahim,” meanwhile, earned actor-turned-director Guesmi the best first film award. Co-written by Guesmi, the touching film revolves around a young man who is torn between his father, a brasserie oyster vendor, and a college friend who lures him in a dodgy robbery scheme. Guesmi, a well-known French actor who has starred in more than 130 films, headlines the film with Abdel Bendaher and Rabah Nait Oufella. “Ibrahim” previously scooped four prizes at the Angouleme film festival.
Wajeman’s “Night Doctor” won the audience prize. The movie turns on a doctor who tries to retire from the stressful work of treating drug addicts, the homeless and the destitute in tough neighborhoods at night. It stars Vincent Macaigne (who also co-wrote the film), Mickaël Kourtchine, Pio Marmaï and Sara Giraudeau.
Other awards went to Philippe Béziat’s “Les Indes Galantes” which won for best documentary; Olivier Jahan’s “Claire Andrieux” for best TV film; the TV series “L’opera,” by Stéphane Demoustier, Cécile Ducrocq, Inti Calfat, Dirk Verheye and Laïla Marrakchi, for best TV series. The Colcoa prize from American Students was handed out to Patrick Imbert’s Netflix animated feature “The Summit of the Gods.”
Despite the pandemic and travel restrictions, Colcoa was able to gather a joyful pack of emerging talent and well-established directors and actors, including Guesmi, Damien Bonnard (“Les Miserables,””The Restless”), Nicolas Maury (“My Best Part,” “Call My Agent”), Amine Bouhafa, the music composer of “The Summit of the Gods” and “Gagarine,” Elie Grappe (“Olga” ), Tracy Gotoas and Nolwenn Lemesle (“Les Héritières”), Vincent Maël Cardona (“Magnetic Beats”), Yann Gozlan (“Black Box”), Jérémy Trouilh and Fanny Liatard (“Gagarine”), Philippe Martin (“Les Indes Galantes”) and Raphael Perchet (“Marcher sur l’eau”).
A total of 55 films and series, as well as 19 shorts, screened at Colcoa. Many of these titles were having their North American premieres, notably “Eiffel,” Pathé’s big-budget period movie starring Emma Mackey and Romain Duris.
The festival kicked off with the screening of Emmanuel Carriere’s “Between Two Worlds” with Juliette Binoche and was attended by Jacqueline Bisset, Julie Delpy (“On The Verge”), Aja Naomi King (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Tygh Runyan (“Versailles”), Daphne Albert (“On the Verge”), Alexia Landeau (“On the Verge”) and Oliver Bauriat (“On the Verge”). Franco-American Cultural Fund Board members in attendance included Andrea Berloff (“Straight Outta Compton”), Taylor Hackford, Michael Mann, Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of MPAA, Jay Roth, the DGA’s national executive director, and Rodman.
“For this year’s Colcoa Film & Series Festival it was a particularly meaningful moment as not only were we celebrating our 25th anniversary, but also the return to the DGA Theater complex for a live and in-person event after a year of lockdown,” said Truffart, Colcoa’s executive producer and artistic director.
“In the end it was a successful bet in this transitional period. Our audience came back to enjoy films in the theater again while distributors and international sales companies used the event for the promotion of their films,” pointed out Truffart, who added that the event will host its edition in the fall of 2022.
Anouchka van Riel, Colcoa’s deputy director, said: “In these unprecedented times, the films awarded at Colcoa reflect a spirit of resilience, redemption, and transformation.
“Our audience, having been deprived of communal experience, returned in large numbers for the festival’s 25th anniversary with in-depth discussions and events around films, filmmakers, producers and composers and a special tribute to Bertrand Tavernier,” said van Riel.
Van Riel, who has managed to enlist powerful sponsors such as L’Oreal, Air Tahiti Nui, and Bank Of The West/BNP Paribas, said this edition “broke the record of attendance for [its] high school program with more than 3,000 students participating in screenings — online and in-person — and Q&As with the director, screenwriters and actor: Another testimony to Colcoa’s perennial presence in Los Angeles.”