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FESTIVALS, FESTIVALS, FESTIVALS – FILM IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

In Southern California, one can literally attend a film festival every night. Over the past several weeks, movie buffs had the chance to enjoy the very best in domestic and international cinema at COLCOA French Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival and South East European Film Festival.

(l-r) Lourdes Saab, Deputy Chief of Protocol for the County of Los Angeles & Vera Mijojlic, founder SEEfest | Photo credit: Aaron Perez

(l-r) Lourdes Saab, Deputy Chief of Protocol for the County of Los Angeles & Vera Mijojlic, founder SEEfest | Photo credit: Aaron Perez

Touted as the largest French film fest in the world, the nineteenth Annual COLCOA French Film Festival (www.colcoa.org), held April 20-28 at the Directors Guild of America, showcased a record number of 68 films, including many world or U.S. premieres and 20 new shorts. This year, the event introduced a new competition dedicated to films and series produced specifically for television.

“We decided to initiate a mixed program of selections made for both cinema and television, one of the first in the United States, not only because of the evolution of the market, the industry and film viewers’ habits, but also because American directors, writers and now distributors – who are an invaluable part of our audience – are involved in both fields,” said François Truffart, COLCOA Executive Producer and Artistic Director.

COLCOA opened with the North American premiere of “A Perfect Man,” a thriller co-written by Yann Gozlan, Guillaume Lemans and Grégoire Vigneron and directed by Yann Gozlan, and featuring rising stars Pierre Niney (2015 Cesar Award Best Actor Winner) and Ana Girardot.

Writer/director Yann Gozlan and Pierre Niney attending the North American Premiere of "A PERFECT MAN" | Photo credit: La Boite/COLCOA

Writer/director Yann Gozlan and Pierre Niney attending the North American Premiere of “A PERFECT MAN” | Photo credit: La Boite/COLCOA

A highlight of the festival was COLCOA’s Classics Series, an exclusive program of digitally restored premieres, including José Giovanni’s “Two Men in Town” starring Alain Delon and Pierre Caro, Wim Wenders’ “Paris Texas” starring Nastassja Kinski and Harry Dean Stanton, and François Truffaut’s “Le Dernier Metro” with Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu.

In his opening night remarks, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, the Honorable Axel Cruau declared that April 2016 will be dedicated to French arts, culture and business, in celebration of COLCOA’s twentieth anniversary.

The sixteenth annual Newport Beach Film Festival (www.newportbeachfilmfest.com), held April 23 to 30, opened with Russell Crowe’s impressive directorial debut “The Water Diviner” starring Crowe and the stunning Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko. The premiere, followed by a lavish party presented by Fashion Island and Esquire Magazine, featured culinary tastings from 25 of the best restaurants in Orange County and a performance by Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana.

Ben Barnes and Katherine Heigl | Photo credit: NBFF

Ben Barnes and Katherine Heigl | Photo credit: NBFF

Other highlights of the eight day festival, that showcased 350 films from 50 countries, included the sold out screening of “Jackie & Ryan,” directed by Ami Canaan Mann and starring Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes.

From April 30 to May 7, the tenth annual South East European Film Festival (www.seefilmla.org) spotlighted North American and West Coast premieres of 47 films, with attendance by filmmakers, industry professionals and cultural dignitaries from Los Angeles and South East Europe.

The opening night gala, held at the Writers Guild Theater, unveiled SEEfest’s inaugural Legacy and Lifetime Achievement Awards, presented to Academy and Golden Globe Award winner George Chakiris, and legendary Romanian actor Victor Rebenguic, who starred in “The Japanese Dog,” by director Tudor Cristian Jurgiu. The film also won the fest’s “Best Feature Film, Grand Jury Prize, Bridging the Borders Award.”

Vera Mijojlic, founder and director, SEEfest commented, “I hope that SEEfest will provide an ongoing platform for a larger audience to discover and enjoy the cinema from the borderlands of the Balkans and the Caucasus.”

Vera Mijojlic & Legacy Award Recipient George Chakiris | Photo credit: John Hasulyo

Vera Mijojlic & Legacy Award Recipient George Chakiris | Photo credit: John Hasulyo

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