April means the return of French films

call-my-agent-colcoa.jpgScene from "Call My Agent."

April in Los Angeles means the Festival of Books, which occurred last weekend at USC, and the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, which will celebrate its seventh year in Hollywood at the end of the month. And in between is The City of Lights, City of Angels French Film Festival offering Angelenos an opportunity to see a panoply of French films on the big screen for free or at reasonable prices. With more theater screens being devoted to blockbusters, there has been a decline in access to foreign films, but for nine days, from April 18 through April 26, we can gorge on over forty French features and documentaries.

This year's impressive line-up includes two films starring Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin, the American premiere of Claude Lelouch's latest, "Un plus Une," and the closing night film, "Up for Love," a romantic comedy having its world premiere at the festival. There are documentaries, dramas and comedies with a nod to French television as well. There are also discussions with actors, distributors and directors such as Michael Hazanavicius, the Academy Award winning writer director of "The Artist." Wine and cheese - of course - are served many afternoons.

This will be the 20th COLCOA Festival and while I always find myself intrigued by many of the new films, and I am sucker for French comedies, it is the restored classic films that I end up making a priority. This year COLCOA will honor Academy Award-nominated writer-director Jean-Paul Rappeneau on Thursday, April 21 with a screening of the digitally restored "A Matter of Resistance" (1965), starring Catherine Deneuve and Philippe Noiret, as well as the U.S. premiere of his new film, "Families." Other classic films on the schedule include Barbet Schroeder's first feature, "More" (1969) and an 80th anniversary screening of digitally restored "They Were Five" (1936) by writer-director Julien Duvivier and starring Jean Gabin and Charles Vanel. Just writing this out, I am starting to get excited.

COLCOA is held at the Directors Guild, 7920 Sunset Blvd., and for tickets and schedule information go to www.colcoa.org.

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