LOS ANGELES, Nov 2 — The growth of streaming and binge-watching during the pandemic have switched more audiences onto foreign cinema, veteran director Michael Mann said yesterday at the launch of Hollywood’s French film festival.

Heat and The Last of the Mohicans director Mann was speaking at the 25th anniversary opening night of COLCOA, which celebrates French movies in Los Angeles, but was cancelled last year due to Covid-19.

This year’s edition is somewhat scaled back, in part as a ban on European travelers imposed at the start of the pandemic remains in place until next week. But COLCOA still boasts a field of 55 movies and series designed to showcase the best in Gallic cinema.

It opened yesterday with Between Two Worlds, in which Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche — alongside a largely non-professional cast — goes undercover to expose the insecurity of the gig economy.

“I think the combination of streaming and Covid, where people spend so much time watching video on-demand and streaming, has opened up the whole world of cinema in a really terrific way,” Mann told AFP on the red carpet.

The debut earlier this year of French-language TV mystery Lupin became Netflix’s third most-watched season. Even that was recently dwarfed by the success of South Korea’s Squid Game, watched by 111 million accounts less than a month after its September release.

Thanks to a new generation of filmmakers and streaming platforms, “there is a way to consume, to discover and to be interested in different genres, and so effectively the American public is opening up to the world,” said COLCOA festival director Francois Truffart.

In a year that also saw French television shows such as Call My Agent gain global fans, COLCOA is putting increased emphasis on series such as Emile Zola adaptation Germinal, and Julie Delpy’s middle-age comedy On The Verge.

Films include Lost Illusions, adaptated from Honore de Balzac’s novel, and Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle, about a Japanese soldier who refuses to believe World War II has ended and fights on for decades.

COLCOA, which stands for “City of Lights, City of Angels” — the nicknames of Paris and Los Angeles, respectively — runs until Sunday. — AFP