By Evan Senn
The Palm Springs International Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in America, and as its 24th year anniversary coincides with The City of Palm Springs’ 75th anniversary this is a year not to be missed! This film festival usually brings in over 135,000 people in attendance, and brings innovative and exceptional filmmakers and actors to this culturally diverse desert city for this 11-day extravaganza.
This year, the Warner Bros. Pictures’ dramatic thriller, Argo is setting the stage for excellence, with its 2013 Ensemble Performance Award, which will be accepted by members of the cast including Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston on Saturday, at the “black tie” Awards Gala presented by Cartier. The festival kicks off today with a screening of the Foreign Language Oscar submission from Spain, Blancanieves directed by Pablo Berger; and wraps on Jan. 13 with the U.S. premiere of Paul Andrew Williams’ Unfinished Song starring Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave.
“We’re delighted to once again be offering up such a broad and diverse line up of exceptional international cinema at the festival,” festival director Darryl Macdonald says. “Best of all, among these 180 accomplished new films are 63 debut features by first-time filmmakers, heralding an injection of fresh, audacious talent into the lifeblood of contemporary world cinema.” festival director Macdonald and festival artistic director Helen du Toit have expressed gracious excitement for the always-present diversity at this festival. “I’m really excited to be opening this year’s PSIFF with Blancanieves, a wildly original, silent movie version of Snow White—updated to the 1920s, and with Blancanieves displaying her natural gifts as a matador,” du Toit says. “Not only is this Spanish submission for the Foreign Language Oscar a brilliant film (which is, after all, what we’re all about), but director Pablo Berger feels like one of our own. His short films Trevor and Truth and Beauty won Best Comedy here in 1995, and his first feature Torremolinos ’73 won our New Voices/New Visions competition in 2004. So this film in particular highlights two of our greatest strengths and core attributes: showcasing the very best in world cinema and discovering new talent.”
The festival will offer a selection of 61 premieres of highly anticipated films—never been seen in theaters before, showcasing the amazing diversity of contemporary international cinema. As most—if not all—of our contemporary cinema is international, the diversity of this film festival strengthens not only the support of international camaraderie and networking, but also showcases and supports the incredible talent that is bursting through the new generations of filmmakers, locally and internationally.
Palm Springs has made a name for itself with this annual film festival, creating noteworthy followings for burgeoning films and actors each year. The festival started in 1989 and is held annually in January. It is run by the Palm Springs International Film Society, which also runs the Palm Springs ShortFest, a festival of short films and film markets in June each year. The film festival does more than just debut these bright new films, the film festival also awards extraordinary films and filmmakers.
The “New Voices/New Visions Award” will honor one of ten films from top emerging international directors marking their feature film debut at the Festival. The winner is selected by a jury of film-professionals and executives, and will receive a generous package of Panavision equipment. Commenting on this year’s competing selection, du Toit says, “This year’s New Voices New Visions competition selection is bursting with the youthful energy of hot international emerging filmmakers. Many of the films have already enjoyed great critical acclaim, massive box-office success in their home countries, or are simply presenting wildly original new visions. And all of the directors included will surely go on to great careers.”
Palm Springs International Film Festival, various screenings and events at various locations, (760) 322-2930; www.psfilmfest.org. Thru Jan. 14.