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H’wood French film fest showcases women’s triumphs – Jeonju lineup reveals complexity of film selection in Asia

LOS ANGELES, April 4, (Agencies): The world’s largest festival of French film hits Hollywood this month embracing the #MeToo moment with a line-up dedicated to the country’s best female filmmaking talent.

The 22nd COLCOA is offering a record 86 films, television shows, digital series and virtual reality experiences, many never seen before in the United States, as well as a handful of international and US premieres.

It is the first edition of the annual event since the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal that sparked the #MeToo and Time’s Up campaigns, and the program reflects the push to celebrate the work of women.

“Through its different competitions, we are proud to dedicate this year’s programming of COLCOA to women, both in their role in the making of the films and series, and their central roles in the majority of the stories selected this year,” said executive producer Francois Truffart.

Originally styled “City of Lights, City of Angels,” COLCOA boasts some 75 entrants for a slew of honors, including the audience award, best documentary, best TV movie, critics award and critics special prize.

With the film industry still reeling from the shock of the sexual harassment and assault firestorm that ended the careers of Weinstein and numerous other powerful Hollywood figures, the female aspect of many COLCOA entrants should resonate on both sides of the Atlantic.

These include Oscar-nominated Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a social realist thriller about a violent abuser who forces his way back into his ex’s life that won best director and debut at the Venice Film Festival.

“The Party is Over,” another feature directorial debut, this time from Marie Garel-Weiss, is about two women who bond as they battle drug addiction, becoming inseparable.

More than half of the selection of short films are by women, while panels will address the role of women in the French film industry and first films directed by women.

Over at the festival’s “virtual reality corner,” an experience called “Uturn” examines the gender gap from both sides with interwoven stories that allow the viewer to embody either a female or male character.

The experience was created by Nathalie Mathe, a NASA scientist turned filmmaker and VR specialist whose credits include “Persepolis,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Skyfall,” “Captain Phillips” and “Fast and Furious 6.”


LOS ANGELES: Jeonju, South Korea’s second largest film festival, Monday revealed a lineup that highlights the political and cultural complications of compiling a representative selection in Asia.

The festival will open with world premiere of “Yakiniku Dragon” by Korean-Japanese director Chong Wishing. It will close with Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” which has been accused of appropriating Asian culture.

“We’re aware of the controversy (“Dogs”). The film deals with political issues in Japan and the US. It is part of our role to foster discussion of such work,” said festival programmer Lee Sang-yong.

At a press event held in Jeonju and Seoul on Tuesday, the ten-day film festival (May 3 – 12) announced its biggest ever line-up, spanning 202 features and 44 shorts. Programmers noted a decrease in Korean documentaries.

“Over the past few editions, the TV industry could not pick up subjects that are suitable for TV productions [for political reasons] and therefore, many of those materials had to be produced as (feature) films,” said programmer Kim Young-jin.

Last year, the “THAAD effect,” China’s ongoing boycott of Korean culture, due to political and military tensions, meant that Jeonju struggled to program Chinese films. “This year, there were no specific issues. Some distributors even approached us, but others gave lukewarm responses. I believe things will get better towards the end of the year or early next year,” said Kim.

LOS ANGELES: Benicio Del Toro has been named president of the jury for Un Certain Regard in Cannes.

Hailing him as “not only a film lover but a brilliant actor,” the Cannes Film Festival said Wednesday that Del Toro was “an artist who knows no boundaries” and a performer who “throws himself like no other into his roles.” He won a supporting actor Oscar in 2001 for his performance in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic.”

Del Toro succeeds Uma Thurman in presiding over the jury for Un Certain Regard, the sidebar at Cannes that focuses on films with unusual themes or storytelling techniques. About 20 works compete in the section.

Del Toro has had a long association with Cannes. He served on the main competition jury eight years ago, which awarded the Palme d’Or to Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.”

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