ColCoa Roundup: Introduction

This week the Mediascape Blog is running a series of posts by Laura Swanbeck on the 2013 ColCoa Film Festival.

I have wanted to set foot inside the Directors Guild of America ever since moving to Los Angeles in the fall of 2012. Last month I had the opportunity to do just that with the commencement of the 17th annual ColCoa (City of Lights, City of Angels) Film Festival, for which the DGA plays host. Invited by Executive Producer and Artistic Director Franois Truffart as well as Associate Director Sandrine De Clercq to cover the festival, I felt humbled to be among such incredibly talented filmmakers from around the world, not to mention having the chance to work alongside journalists from publications ranging from American Cinematographer to Le Monde.

What followed was a whirlwind week at the second largest French film festival, during which I attended myriad screenings (many of which were North American debuts), observed panels, and participated in press sessions. For a week, Francophiles flocked to the DGA to experience premieres, homages, restorations, and retrospectives by renowned French filmmakers. Director Wes Anderson received ColCoa’s honorary “carte blanche” and chose to program Louis Malle’s classic Le Feu Follet (1963), starring Maurice Ronet and Jeanne Moreau. The festival also featured a digital restoration of Jacques Demy’s Bay of Angels (1963) as well as the 35th Anniversary screening of The Brönte Sisters (1979), directed by Andre Techiné and starring Isabelle Adjani, Isabelle Hupert, and Marie-France Pisier.

This year ColCoa initiated their new “Focus on a Producer” program, which highlighted the work of Anne-Dominique Toussaint, producer of Philippe Le Guay’s Cycling with Molieré and Rachid Djaidani’s first feature, Hold Back. Toussaint is widely recognized for her contributions in cultivating innovative work and for producing independent films ranging from Mona Adache’s Le Hérisson (2009) to Nadine Labacki’s Caramel (2007). ColCoa also organized a special panel on Foreign Film Distribution, with participants from companies including Kino Lorber, Cohen Media, and Music Box. The event also featured Under the Milky Way, a new online digital distribution and marketing platform that is revolutionizing the way distributors unite international films with niche audiences.

While I appreciated the opportunity to attend ColCoa’s Opening Night Gala, what I enjoyed most of all was the press room and the ardent and idiosyncratic directors who passed through its doors. I was captivated by their stories, their diverse paths as filmmakers, and the lengths they went to in order to translate their vision from page to screen, often over the course of many years. This week the Mediascape Blog will publish a roundup of the best films I saw at ColCoa.

For more information on the festival, check out the festival’s website or ColCoa on Facebook.

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Author bio:

Laura Swanbeck is a staunch cinephile, film festival enthusiast, and Master’s student in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA. She spent the last few years working in film programming and championing independent filmmakers at the California Film Institute and San Francisco Film Society. Areas of interest include Middle Eastern and European transnational cinema with a specific focus on immigration, exile, and diaspora. Currently she’s enamored with French film after covering the ColCoa Film Festival. She has recurring nightmares about DCP issues, unabashedly loves feminist film theory, and probably would have been Pauline Kael’s arch-nemesis had she been born a few decades earlier.

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