Wrapping up a successful 20th anniversary edition, the COLCOA French Film Festival announced the winning films Wednesday from their record 70 films screening. Winning the coveted Audience Award was director Anne Fontaine’s “The Innocents.” Written by Pascal Bonitzer, Sabrina B. Karine and Alice Vial, “The Innocents” is set at a Benedictine convent in 1945, where a Red Cross nurse finds a number of nuns pregnant, and a Mother Superior who swears secrecy in order to not jeopardize the order.
Winning the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award was co-writer/director Christian Carion’s “Come What May.” Examining a German village’s exodus during World War II can only draw parallels to today’s refuge crises. With a score by Academy Award winner Ennio Morricone, “Come What May” hails from the director Carion who directed 2005’s “Joyeux Noel.”
Controversial “Made in France” co-written and directed by Nicolas Boukhrief was the winner of the Audience Special Prize. This film chronicles homegrown extremists in Paris. Bouli Lanners’ “The First, the Last” took the Critics Special Prize. This quirky crime romance looks at romance, crime and end of days in an industrial ruin.
Those films garnering Audience Special Mentions were “Un Plus Une,” co-written and directed by Claude Lelouch and starring Jean Dujardin, Elsa Zylberstein, Christophe Lambert, and Alice Pol; and “I am a Soldier,” co-written and directed by Laurent Lariviere and starring Louise Bourgoin as a financially compromised woman who works at an illegal puppy mill.
Critics Special Mentions were given to 2016 Cesar Award-winning “Fatima,” written and directed by Philippe Faucon. “Fatima” examines the generational split between a North African immigrant mother and her two young adult daughters in France. “The Innocents” also was awarded a Critics Special Mention.
The documentary, “Tomorrow,” co-written and co-directed by Cyril Dion and Melanie Laurent received the Best Documentary Award, while the First Feature Award was awarded to “Neither Heaven nor Earth,” co-written and directed by Clement Cogitore.
The French animated film, “Long Way North,” received the COLCOA Coming Soon Award. Written and directed by Remi Chaye, the film is scheduled for a Fall U.S. release.
In the Short Film categories the winners were: “It’s Caviar,” written and directed by Sarah Lelouch (Audience Award winner); “Mother(s),” written and directed by Maimouna Doucoure (Jury Award); “Millions of Tears,” written and directed by Natalie Beder (Jury and Audience Special Prize); “Enemies Within,” written and directed by Selim Azzazi (Audience Special Prize) and “Cold Coffee,” written and directed by Stephanie Lansaque and Francois Leroy (Jury Special Mention); and “Our Fallen Heroes,” written and directed by Stephane Landowski (Audience Special Mention).
Finally, in COLCOA’s second year in screening innovative French television, the drama movie winners were: “Carpets and Chaos,” written and directed by Nader Takmil Homayoun (Audience and Jury Award); “Borderline,” co-written and directed by Olivier Marchal (Audience Special Prize); “Woman Under Influence,” written and directed by Claude-Michel Rome (Jury Special Prize). TV series winners were, “The Bureau – Season 2 (Audience Award and Jury Special Prize) and “Call My Agent,” (Jury Award and Audience Special Prize).