Every year in early January, the Palm Springs International Film Festival kicks off the award season that leads to the world famous Golden Globes and Academy Awards.
Over the last two decades, the Festival has grown in terms of popularity and attendance, entering its 26th edition on January 2, 2015. This was opened by a premiere of the acclaimed movie Selma, based on Martin Luther King’s march for civil rights in 1965, and will close on the 12th with the screening of Boychoir, starring Dustin Hoffman.
Featuring more than 180 films from about 70 countries, including the largest selection of Foreign Language Oscar submissions nationwide, the annual PSIFF is hosted by theaters and other venues throughout the city, while special events and nightly parties are held in luxurious hotels.
In particular, the spectacular Awards Gala turns the local Convention Center into a glamorous red carpet, raising funds for the Palm Spring International Film Society and drawing international celebrities from the movie industry – actors, directors, editors, producers, and media – as well as thousands of film lovers to the desert resort city, located in Riverside County, California.
This year, the award ceremony took place on Saturday, January 3rd, and was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, Entertainment Tonight, and the jewellery brand Cartier. Presented by ET former anchor Mary Hart, it honored Hollywood stars the likes of Robert Duvall (The Judge), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Reese Witherspoon (Wild), Rosamunde Pike (Gone Girl), David Oyelowo (Selma), and the cast of The Imitation Game. Many of them also attended the after party at the Parker Palm Springs, mingling with the guests in an intimate and friendly atmosphere that very few other festivals can boast.
Among the celebrity presenters were Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., and Michael Keaton. The honorees received either the John Kennedy “The Entertainer” statue or a Silvered Piccolo Venetian with Carmine Gold Leaves, an Art Deco glass sculpture created by American artist Dale Chihuly and inspired by the Venetian glass blowing tradition.
As part of the PSIFF’s Foreign Language Film program, Italian cinema was represented by two recent releases: Human Capital (2013) and I Can Quit Whenever I Want (2014).
The former is directed by Paolo Virzì and based on the namesake American novel by Stephen Amidon, but set in Lombardy region. It investigates the unscrupulousness of human desire and greed in a capitalist society by following the interconnected stories of two wealthy families involved in a mysterious hit and run accident.
The film was selected as Italy’s entry at the 87th Academy Awards, but unfortunately was not nominated. After premiering in the U.S. on November 13, 2014 on the occasion of Cinema Italian Style, it’s still showing in theaters, including the Palm Springs’ Camelot Theaters on January 11th.
The latter movie, I Can Quit Whenever I Want, is a successful comedy, directed by young Italian director Sydney Sibilia, on the high unemployment rate and economic hardship in contemporary Italy, where a group of brilliant academics decide to enter the more remunerative drug trade. It’s scheduled on January 8th and 10th at the Annenberg Auditorium in Palm Springs, and those who loved the American TV series Breaking Bad shouldn’t miss it.