By guest blogger Peter Belsito
COL COA Director Francois Truffart and writer Jeremy Doner
French Cinema in Los Angeles
We wanted to write about Francois and his work at COL• COA because he is spearheading a great and important effort to bring French cinema and awareness of it to L.A. and the U.S.
Firstly, we have always loved French cinema; we were raised on it, so to speak, and our cultural, political and cinematic consciousness was formed by the greatness of the works over the years. We also have been to France many times and have close friends and family there, little babies even.
Secondly, we have known Francois in France and then since he came to the U.S. to live over a decade ago. We consider him, and his wife, feature film buyer Yoko Asakura Truffart, as colleagues and friends.
After completing a Master’s degree in Political Science in Paris, François Truffart authored a book, still used today, about TV in Europe, Le Guide de Television en Europe. In 1991 he was Cultural Attaché in charge of cinema promotion at the French Embassy in Hungary. Then he moved to Japan and the United States (Los Angeles) successively, from 1992 to 2001. In 2002, he was Director of the prestigious Cinéfondation at the Cannes Film Festival for emerging talent. He then represented Le Marché du Film / Cannes Film Market of the Cannes Film Festival in the U.S. He has been in charge of programming for COL• COA since 2004 before being assigned as Director and Programmer in 2007. He is a consultant for film finance and acquisitions for the Japanese market, through his L.A.-based company Sorry Angels, Inc.
COL• COA has a unique place in the cultural life of L.A. and we are blessed to have them here.
Each year through its events, screenings and outreach, COL• COA is committed to promoting new French films in Hollywood and to the U.S.
City of Lights, City of Angels (COL• COA) was created in 1996 by The Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique collaborative effort between the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Association, the Writers Guild of America West, and France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM). COL• COA is also supported by l’Association des Auteurs-Realisateurs-Producteurs (ARP), the Film and TV Office of the French Embassy in Los Angeles and Unifrance.
Francois sees his job, as Director of COL• COA, on 3 levels.
1) To build as cultural relationship between filmmakers in L.A. and France and with the all powerful L.A. based film Guilds.
2) To promote French films and connect to the large and all important L.A. based film industry and companies (i.e. internationally the largest concentration of film activity, people and resources is in the LA area). He wants to bring over French writers, directors, producers to meet the industry in L.A. He wants to work with U.S. companies in distributing French films here, in the U.S., the world’s largest cinema market. Certain U.S. companies, important ones, have always picked up quality French films. These include The Weinstein Company, IFC and Lorber Films.
His office makes the U.S. distributors aware of films still available for U.S .distribution, films they may not know about. For the big agencies COL• COA acts as a conduit for the most promising new French talent, actors and directors.
COL• COA also advises and encourages U.S. companies for ‘remakes’ of good French titles.
3) To educate. I love Francois’ ambition and goal here next with his desire to create a new generation of viewers for French cinema. I say this as a New York City (suburb) youth who knew from nothing about the world but who learned so much from French cinema. Last year COL• COA hosted over 2,000 U.S. teenage students from 40 high schools in L.A. County (and Palm Springs even!) to come and view film and discuss. This was done over 4 days at 10am in Hollywood (and naturally Francois had to be very careful of the film’s content and language).
The students see films in the original French language and view subtitles, mostly for the first time. (Next year they will try to do screenings with children as young as kindergarten age.) They also want to draw in family groups with kids ages 5-15 years.
The Next Event
April 11-18, 2011 COL• COA will feature its Hollywood based (at the Directors Guild building on Sunset Blvd) Monday to Monday program of new French features, seen in the U.S. for the first time. The main goal is to promote French cinema and to invite industry people at all levels to come and watch films and socialize at galas, parties and intimate gatherings. The group has 32 sponsors here in the U.S. and in some ways is the most unique cinema event and festival in the world. Critics vote for the ‘best’ in various categories with the goal of building U.S. awareness of new French cinema
In the late evenings there are ‘special films’, mostly genre and horror. In the mornings, the high school programs.
Francois likes to say that deals ‘begin’ at COL• COA in April and then ‘end’ the next month May, at Cannes, where they are signed. The mix is small films, art to blockbusters with international appeal.
Follow the activities online at:
Features recently shown at COL• COA (among 244 films selected):
– WELCOME TO THE STICKS co-written and directed by Dany Boon (North American Premiere) (COL• COA 2008)
– WELCOME written and directed by Philippe Lioret (North American Premiere) (COL• COA 2009) (One year before the U.S. release)
– LA VIE EN ROSE written and directed by Olivier Dahan (Official Premiere Los Angeles) (COL• COA 2007) (2 Oscars)
– HEARTBREAKER directed by Pascal Chaumeil (North American Premiere) (COL• COA 2010)
– MERSRINE directed by Jean-Francois Richet (Los Angeles Premiere) (COL• COA 2009) (More than one year before the U.S. release)
– TELL NO ONE directed by Guillaume Canet (West Coast Premiere) (COL• COA 2007) (More than one year before the U.S. release)
– OSS 117 LOST IN RIO directed by Mikchel HazanaviciU.S. (International Premiere) (COL• COA 2009) (One year before the U.S. release)
– THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE directed by Remy Bezancon (U.S. Premiere) (COL• COA 2009)
– SOMEONE I LOVED directed by Zabou Breitman (International Premiere) (COL• COA 2009)
– GAINSBOURG: JE T’AIME, MOI NON PLUS, directed by Johann Sfar (West Coast Premiere) (COL• COA 2010)
– ROMAN DE GARE directed by Claude Lelouch (Official Los Angeles Premiere ) (COL• COA 2008)
– THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (West Coast Premiere) (COL• COA 2008)
– PARIS directed by Cedric Klapisch (West Coast Premiere) (COL• COA 2008) (One year before the U.S. release)
– SO CLOSE directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache (World Premiere) (COL• COA 2009)
– QUEEN TO PLAY directed by Caroline Bottaro (World Premiere) (COL• COA 2009)
– THE CONCERT directed by Radu Mihaileanu (U.S.Premiere) (COL• COA 2010)
– MY FATHER’S GUEST directed by Anne Le Ny (International Premiere) (COL• COA 2010)
Complete list available on www.colcoa.org. It is also interesting to mention a link on colcoa.org and on the COLCOA page on Facebook. On this page, we provided daily information about new French films released in the US : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Los-Angeles-CA/COLCOA-A-WEEK-OF-FRENCH-FILM-PREMIERES-IN-HOLLYWOOD/107319475961934