Bienvenue, COLCOA 2019!

Les Miserables (2019) director Ladj Ly

Our yearly reminder that life is worth living — because the French are still making movies — arrives Monday, Sept 23, 2019. That’s when the 22nd annual COLCOA French Film Festival pops the cork not on Prosecco, not on Cava nor sparkling wine, but real Champagne. It happens at the crazy, hobnobbing opening-night reception that community members anticipate by fasting for days. Because at this big party celebrating French cinema, they serve French canapes and petit fours.

For those who are neither cinephile nor film geek, COLCOA stands for the City of Lights / City of Angels, a sister-city marriage for the movies. The Festival which normally spools in the Spring has moved this year to September 23-28 because the Director’s Guild of America, which generously hosts it, just had a huge refurbishment of its three theaters (respectively 600, 160, and 50 seats), lounge, and lobby area.

COLCOA TEAM: COLCOA deputy director Anouchka van Riel, COLCOA executive producer and artistic director François Truffart, former president WGAW Howard A. Rodman, film critic Amy Nicholson, film critic Peter DeBruge.

The Festival screens 85 films and series organized into five programs (Cinema, Television, Shorts, Web Series and Virtual Reality). But the pride of this year’s COLCOA, and its headline news, is that opening night film with its unmistakably French title, Les Miserables, has just been selected by France’s Oscar committee as the official submission for the Best International Feature category to the 92nd Academy Awards.

Bravo! (and be sure to say that with a French accent). In addition to opening night, Les Miz, The Movie will be shown a second time:

  • Monday September 23, 7:30 pm, Renoir & Truffaut Theatre
    Conversation with director Ladj Ly and actors Damien Bonnard & Djebril Didier Zonga
  • Friday September 27, 5:00 pm, Renoir  Theatre
    Discussion with actor Damien Bonnard

Victor Hugo’s magnum opus is lionized and shaken up in Ladj Ly’s sprawling fresco of his native Montfermeil — a collection of housing projects crawling with sleazy cops, small-time hoods, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a ragtag group of kids left to fend for themselves… all jockeying for turf. Majestic, stirring, gripping and compassionate, with a musical score that is, at once, moving and thrilling, the film follows an upright cop on his first day on the job, as he learns the ropes and struggles to hold onto his principles.

Film opens with a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise and a joyous eruption of fraternité, and concludes with a resounding eleventh-hour alarm and powerful plea to diffuse the tinderbox and somehow resolve the anger and violence.

COLCOA French Film Festival | Director’s Guild of America Building | Sept 23 – 28

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