Film Festival’s 25th Anniversary

Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and many more stars to receive awards

Posted By: Matt Link Friday, December 27, 2013

In 2012, the influential industry publication Hollywood Reporter heaped praise upon The Palm Springs International Film Festival:

“Palm Springs’ gala will not disappoint anyone looking for a little old fashioned Hollywood glamour for glamour’s sake. This is not to say the Palm Springs fest is without substance. On the contrary, as a yearly showcase for many of the official submissions in the foreign language Oscar race, Palm Springs screens some of the most acclaimed - yet hard to find - releases of the year.”

Now ranked as the third largest film festival in North America (after Toronto and Seattle), over 135,000 filmgoers and a pantheon of Hollywood’s A-list crème de la crème gallop in celluloid-loving herds to the desert every January for The Palm Springs International Film Festival. The free publicity and advertising the city receives as a result of this signature event is estimated to be from $30 million to $35 million.

The 11-day festival will celebrate its silver anniversary January 3-13, 2014. The brainchild of then-current Palm Springs Mayor Sonny Bono in 1989, the festival has become a major generator for Academy Award buzz, particularly for potential foreign language Oscar winners. This year, the festival presents a total of 187 films from 60 countries, including 77 film premieres (8 world, 22 North American, and 47 U.S.) at 5 Palm Springs venues on 11 screens. This year will introduce debut works by nearly 50 gifted new directors, offering a broad spectrum of award-winning films from every corner of the globe (including 45 of this year’s 76 official foreign language Academy Award submissions).

For the festival’s 25th anniversary, a retrospective of 10 films from past festivals will be screened that won the Audience Award at past Palm Springs International Film Festivals and then went on to win the foreign language Oscar - as well as first films from directors who have gone on to enjoy Academy Award-winning careers after debuting at the festival. Among these now well-known films are Life is Beautiful (Italy, 1997), Strictly Ballroom (Australia, 1992), Delicatessen (Belgium, 1993), and Cinema Paradiso (Italy, 1988). As the festival’s first-ever Audience Award and Foreign Oscar® winner, Cinema Paradiso will be given a free public outdoor screening at the Forever Marilyn statue on Palm Canyon Drive in downtown on January 11th at 5 PM.

The festival launches on Friday, January 3rd with film screenings throughout the day and a Gala Screening of the new British film Belle at 6:30 PM at the Palm Springs High School auditorium (sold out, but standby tickets may be available at the door). A Gala Party at the Palm Springs Art Museum will follow the screening.

But the really big event occurs the evening of Jan. 4th at the Palm Springs Convention Center from 5 PM to 10 PM. Fans snag spots hours beforehand on the bleachers outside to see their favorite stars saunter down the red carpet and into the festival’s spectacular Awards Gala. Presented by Cartier and sponsored by Mercedes Benz and Entertainment Tonight, this sold-out event is the highlight of the festival and raises more than $1 million in funding for the Palm Springs International Film Society.

In recent years, The festival has welcomed a long list Academy Award-winners like Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Helen Mirren, Sean Penn, Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, and Kate Winslet.

And for its 25th birthday, the largest array of stars yet are all expected to be on hand to receive festival awards:

Meryl Streep: Icon Award

This is the debut year of the Icon Award, and Festival Chairman Harold Matzner said, “We’re overjoyed to recognize Meryl for yet another Oscar-worthy performance in August: Osage County. Meryl’s portrayal of Violet Weston, the matriarch of a dysfunctional family reunited by a tragic incident, will be remembered in her long list of iconic character roles."

Sandra Bullock: Desert Palm Achievement Award – Actress

Bullock won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy in the true-life drama The Blind Side, and Academy Award buzz swirls around her performance in this year’s Gravity.

Past actress recipients of the Desert Palm Achievement Award-Actress include Halle Berry, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts and Michelle Williams.

Matthew McConaughey: Desert Palm Achievement Award – Actor

McConaughey is garnering rave reviews for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club, playing real-life cowboy Ron Woodroof who was diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and given a month to live.

Past actor recipients of the Desert Palm Achievement Award include Jeff Bridges, Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Firth, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sean Penn, and Brad Pitt.

Julia Roberts: Spotlight Award

Academy Award-winner Julia Roberts will receive the Spotlight Award for her role in August: Osage County. Past recipients of the Spotlight Award include Jessica Chastain, Amy Adams and Helen Hunt.

Tom Hanks: Chairman's Award

Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks will be presented with the Chairman’s Award for both Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks. Past recipients of the Chairman’s Award include Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Richard Gere, Dustin Hoffman and Nicole Kidman.

Bruce Dern: Career Achievement Award

Dern’s recent work in the movie Nebraska is drawing rave reviews. Past Career Achievement Award honorees include Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood, Sally Field, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren.

Steve McQueen: Director of the Year Award

McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave - the true story of a free black man in the pre-Civil War era who is abducted and sold into slavery – has been hailed as one of the best films of the year. Past Director of the Year honorees include Stephen Daldry, Ang Lee, Anthony Minghella, Alexander Payne, Sean Penn, Jason Reitman, David O. Russell and Robert Zemeckis.

American Hustle: Ensemble Performance Award

The cast of director David O.Russell's film American Hustle include Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, and Bradley Cooper (who was honored at last year’s festival for his acting performance in Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook).

Past recipients of the Ensemble Performance Award include last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Argo as well as past Best Picture nominees Babel and The Social Network.

Lupita Nyong’o: Breakthrough Performance Award

Lupita Nyong’o makes a stunning film debut as a slave nearly beaten to death by her master in McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

Frederick Loewe: Award for Film Composing

Thomas Newman is a master at creating memorable film scores. In Saving Mr. Banks, he pays tribute to Mary Poppins composers Richard and Robert Sherman through an indelible original score.

In addition to the awards above presented at the gala event, Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” event on Jan. 5th at the Parker Palm Springs hotel will honor:

John Lee Hancock: Creative Impact in Directing Award for Saving Mr. Banks

Jonah Hill: Creative Impact in Acting Award
for overall career

Previous recipients of Creative Impact awards have included David O. Russell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlize Theron, and Mark Wahlberg.

For more information and to buy tickets to screening for this year's Palm Springs International Film Festival, call 800-898-7256 or peruse the festival's web site.


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