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Glamour, Glitz, and Global Cinema: Inside the 35th Palm Springs International Film Festival

Get ready for the much-anticipated 35th edition of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, set to grace the desert with a spectacular showcase of 179 films hailing from 74 countries. Among these cinematic gems, 47 premieres (including 8 World, 3 International, 12 North American, and 24 U.S. premieres) will captivate audiences from January 4 to 15, 2024.

Marking the festival’s grand opening on Friday, January 5, is the U.S. Premiere of “Wicked Little Letters,” skillfully directed by Thea Sharock, hosted at the Richards Center for the Arts. The festival will draw its curtains to a close with the screening of “Ex-Husbands,” directed by Noah Pritzker, on Saturday, January 13, at The Palm Springs Cultural Center. For a comprehensive list of festival venues, eager attendees can find all the details they need.

Photo Credit: Austin Hargrave
Photo Credit: Marco Grob
Photo Credit: Ananta
Photo Credit: Sandro Baebler
Photo Credit: Sam Jones
Photo Credit: Ira Black
Photo Credit Left: Victoria Stevens, Photo Credit Right: Olof Grind
Photo Credit: Conrad Captures
Photo Credit: Paul Romo

Prepare for the glamour and excitement as the red carpet awaits the arrival of stars and the presentation of prestigious awards, signaling the return of the Palm Springs International Film Awards. The star-studded affair will shine a spotlight on some of the brightest talents of the year, kickstarting the awards season with a bang, leading up to the Golden Globes on Sunday.

Artistic Director Lili Rodriguez, expressing the festival’s extensive reach, stated, “Sprawling in scope, this year’s lineup spotlights programming from both international and domestic communities, including first-time filmmaking from American stars, impactful documentaries from abroad, and the very best in contemporary cinema for our Coachella Valley audience. The Palm Springs International Film Festival programming team committed the past year to searching and scavenging the world for the films which compose this Festival’s lineup.” Get ready to be immersed in the world of cinema at its finest..

While a golden ticket isn’t necessary for access to the Palm Springs Convention Center, fans can still get up close to their favorite filmmakers. Positioned near the arrivals area, enthusiasts can line up in anticipation, hoping to secure a coveted selfie or autograph from the celebrated personalities gracing the event.


The Awards

“Killers of the Flower Moon” will be the recipient of the prestigious Vanguard Award, a collective honor for the film’s cast and director in recognition of their outstanding work on the project. The award will be presented to director Martin Scorsese, executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio, and cast member Lily Gladstone during the Film Awards on January 4, 2024, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The festival, running through January 15, 2024, is sponsored by Entertainment Tonight and IHG Hotels & Resorts. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi praised the film for its cinematic excellence and powerful portrayal of the Osage Nation’s tragic history, showcasing the impact of racism and corruption. “Killers of the Flower Moon,” an Apple Original Film, explores the suspicious murders of Osage Nation members who became wealthy after oil was discovered on their land. The epic western crime saga, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring a stellar ensemble cast, is touted as a must-see film of the year.

Paul Giamatti is set to receive the Icon Award for his exceptional career and career-best performance in “The Holdovers” at the upcoming Palm Springs International Film Awards, taking place on January 4, 2024. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi lauded Giamatti’s portrayal of a complex character, emphasizing the film’s exploration of human connection. Giamatti joins a distinguished list of honorees, including Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell, and the cast of “Killers of the Flower Moon.” “The Holdovers,” directed by Alexander Payne, follows a reluctant prep school instructor forming unlikely bonds during the holiday break. Known for his versatility, Giamatti currently stars in HBO Europe’s “30 Coins” and Showtime’s “Billions.” His extensive filmography includes acclaimed works like “Sideways,” “Cinderella Man,” and “Barney’s Version,” earning him accolades such as Golden Globe and SAG Awards. Beyond acting, Giamatti co-hosts the podcast “Chinwag” with Stephen Asma.

Jeffrey Wright, renowned for his acclaimed roles on both stage and screen, has been bestowed with the Career Achievement Award for his outstanding performance in Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction. From his Tony Award-winning portrayal in the Broadway production of “Angels in America” to notable roles in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Westworld, and major films like Basquiat, The Batman, The French Dispatch, and James Bond films, Wright has demonstrated a prolific and versatile acting career. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi praised Wright’s latest film, American Fiction, where he delivers an exceptional and intelligent performance as an author navigating the challenging choice between upholding his integrity and succumbing to societal stereotypes. This career-best performance is expected to garner recognition throughout the award season, making the presentation of the Career Achievement Award a well-deserved honor for Jeffrey Wright.

Penélope Cruz will be awarded the Creative Impact in Acting Award by Variety at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on January 5, 2024. The accolade recognizes her distinguished career, highlighted by four Oscar nominations and notable performances in films like “Volver,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Nine,” and her latest work, “Ferrari,” directed by Michael Mann. The film premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and earned Cruz a Gotham Award nomination. The award will be presented during Variety’s annual brunch, alongside honorees Yorgos Lanthimos and Eric Roth. Steven Gaydos, Variety’s Executive Vice President Content, commends Cruz’s versatility and acknowledges her impact in the film industry, particularly in her role in “Ferrari.” The event will also unveil Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch on January 3.

Colman Domingo is honored with the Spotlight Award, Actor, for his exceptional portrayal of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin in Rustin. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi commended Domingo’s impressive talents, highlighting his career-defining performance in bringing to life the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. With three decades of experience in film, television, and theater, Domingo has garnered acclaim and nominations, including an Independent Spirit Award and SAG Ensemble Award for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, as well as an Emmy Award for his role in Euphoria. Recognized for his work as a playwright and producer, Domingo’s versatility and dedication to his craft are celebrated through the presentation of the Spotlight Award, Actor, in acknowledgment of his outstanding contribution to Rustin.

Cillian Murphy is recognized with the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor, for his exceptional portrayal of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer in Christopher Nolan’s ambitious film Oppenheimer. Having collaborated on five previous films, including The Dark Knight Trilogy and Dunkirk, Murphy and Nolan reunite for this epic project, showcasing Murphy’s stunning performance as the conflicted scientist overseeing the Manhattan Project. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi commended Murphy’s career-best portrayal, acknowledging him as one of the most acclaimed and versatile actors of his generation. The Desert Palm Achievement Award is a fitting honor for Murphy’s outstanding contributions to Oppenheimer, marking his sixth collaboration with Nolan and his first leading role in one of the director’s films.

Carey Mulligan has been honored with the International Star Award, Actress, for her outstanding performance in Bradley Cooper’s film “Maestro.” The film explores the life of renowned composer Leonard Bernstein, providing a historical and personal perspective. Mulligan’s portrayal of Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein is particularly praised for capturing the extremes of true love, portraying both its extraordinary heights and intense lows. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi commended Mulligan’s remarkable contribution to world cinema and presented her with the prestigious award in recognition of her exceptional performance and stature in the film industry.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph is recognized with the Breakthrough Performance Award for her compelling role in The Holdovers, particularly for infusing her significant comedic talents with poignant emotional depth in her portrayal of Mary Lamb, the grieving head cook at Barton Academy. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi expressed admiration for Randolph’s outstanding work, praising her ability to bring both humor and moving emotional resonance to the character. Recognizing her emerging talent, Chandi presented the Breakthrough Performance Award to the Tony Award-nominated actress. Randolph, known for her dignified performances, gained industry acclaim with her scene-stealing role in Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name opposite Eddie Murphy. Her recent projects include Paramount Players’ adaptation of Angie Thomas’ On the Come Up, HBO’s The Idol, and reprising her role in the third season of Only Murders in the Building on Hulu, showcasing the versatility and depth of her acting prowess.

Greta Gerwig has been honored with the Director of the Year Award for her exceptional work on the critically acclaimed and record-breaking film, Barbie. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi praised Gerwig for delivering a cinematic experience that seamlessly blends comedy, emotion, and adventure, making Barbie a cultural phenomenon globally. Recognizing Gerwig as a masterful filmmaker, Chandi highlighted the collaboration between Gerwig and her extraordinary crafts teams, whose vivid visuals are complemented by outstanding performances from the entire cast, including Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. The Director of the Year Award is a well-deserved acknowledgment of Gerwig’s vision and expertise in bringing this captivating film to life.

Danielle Brooks is honored with the Spotlight Award, Actress, for her remarkable performance in The Color Purple, reprising her Tony-nominated role as Sofia. Festival Chairman Nachhattar Singh Chandi praised Brooks for her portrayal of Sofia as a formidable and defiant character challenging traditional female roles while standing up for her beliefs. Highlighting Brooks’s exceptional work and scene-stealing performance, Chandi expressed the festival’s honor in presenting her with the Spotlight Award. Brooks, an award-winning actress and singer, has garnered acclaim for her work in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson on Broadway and her iconic role as Sofia in The Color Purple, earning her a Tony Award nomination, a Grammy Award, Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award. As the co-founder of Black Women on Broadway, Brooks also contributes to honoring the legacy of Black women’s contributions to theatre.

Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell are the recipients of the Chairman’s Award for their critically acclaimed song “What Was I Made For?” from Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed, record-breaking film Barbie. The song has been nominated for five GRAMMY® Awards and received Best Original Song Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards nominations.

Yorgos Lanthimos will receive the Creative Impact in Directing Award at Palm Springs Film Festival to be presented as part of Variety’s annual 10 Directors to Watch and Creative Impact Awards brunch presented by DIRECTV on January 5th at the Parker Palm Springs. “Poor Things” star and frequent collaborator with Yorgos, Emma Stone will be on hand to present him the award at the brunch.

Established in 1990, the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) stands as a prestigious showcase of global cinema, nestled in the scenic Coachella Valley against the backdrop of Mt. San Jacinto in southern California. With its inception, the festival has become a magnet for a cultured and varied audience, attracting industry professionals, film enthusiasts nationwide, and filmmakers from diverse corners of the globe. This annual event serves as a platform for the convergence of cinematic excellence, fostering a rich tapestry of cinematic experiences in the heart of Palm Springs.

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