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Palm Springs in action

The 15th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival has commenced this past week. With over 200 films, from more than 60 countries playing for this year Festival, it’s clear to see why Palm Springs is well respect as a premiere North American Film Festival. The crowds are in full force to see the exciting mix and array of films. With the remodeling of the Signature Theater and Wyndam Hotel as Host Hotel the Festival also has a new fresh presentation.

As well as the venues the Festival Director Darryl Macdonald is over seeing his first season with PSIFF. With the assistance of also new Director of Programming Carl Spence this year's festival line-up further cements the Festival's reputation as one of the preeminent venues to explore new talents and trends in filmmaking from around the world. The selection of films for screening include 69 World and U.S. Premieres from around the world. Also 52 of the 56 films submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Academy Awards will be screened at this years Festival.

This year’s festival opened with the Golden Globe nominated, Big Fish, directed by Tim Burton starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange and Alison Lohman. The films producer Richard D. Zanuck was honored at the Festivals Awards Gala on Sunday, January 11, 2004 with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Producing. Danny Elfman, who composed the score for the film, was also honored at the Awards Gala with the Frederick Loewe Award for Career Achievement in Film Composing.

One of the new awards inaugurate this year was the Mr. & Mrs. T Emerging Filmmaker Award going to a first time feature filmmaker. This year winner was Pablo Berger director of Torremolinos 73 (Spain). Pablo was ecstatic and very please with the award. Stating that Palm Springs has been lucky for him in the past as in 1995 he won an award for a short film he made while a student at New York Film School. Pablo had to wait to call the Executive Producer of Torremolinos 73 who is his wife, for she was in Japan with their new three-month-old daughter Akio and at that time it was in the middle of the night.

Torremolinos 73 is up for three of the GOYA Awards, Spain equivalent of the Oscar, including Best Film, Director and actor. We look for much more in the future form this exciting filmmaker.

The 52 film submissions to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Foreign Language Film will compete for the prestigious International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI) for Best Official Foreign Language Film of the Year.

This years Academy Award submissions for Best Foreign Language Film and candidates for the FIPRESCI Critics Prize include: Osama (Afghanistan); Valentin (Argentina); Vodka Lemon (Armenia); Free Radicals (Austria); Sea of Silence (Belgium); Sexual Dependency (Bolivia); Fuse (Bosnia); Carandiru (Brazil); Journey to Jerusalem (Bulgaria); The Barbarian Invasions (Canada); The Debutantes (Chile); Warriors of Heaven and Earth (China); The First Night (Columbia) Suite Habana (Cuba); Reconstruction (Denmark);Sleepless Nights (Egypt) Elina (Finland); Bon Voyage (France);Goodbye Lenin (Germany);Think it Over (Greece); Infernal Affairs (Hong Kong); Forest (Hungary); Noi (Iceland); The Stringless Violin (Indonesia); Deep Breath (Iran); Im Not Scared (Italy); The Twilight Samurai (Japan) The Kite (Lebanon); I Always Wanted To Be A Saint (Luxembourg); Aro Tolbukhin: In The Mind of A Killer (Mexico); The Story of the Weeping Camel (Mongolia); Muna Madan (Nepal); Twin Sisters (Netherlands); Kitchen Stories (Norway); Divine Intervention (Palestine); Paper Dove (Peru); Dekada 70 (Philippines); Pornography (Poland); A Talking Picture (Portugal); The Return (Russia); The Professional (Serbia & Montenegro); Spare Parts (Slovenia); Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... And Spring (South Korea); Soldiers of Salamina (Spain); Mansion By The Lake (Sri Lanka); Evil (Sweden); Good Bye Dragon Inn (Taiwan); Last Life in the Universe (Thailand); Distant (Turkey); Mamay (Ukraine); Seawards Journey (Uruguay); Sangrador (Venezuela).

The documentaries screening in the Oscar Buzz category include The Agronomist (USA), Balseros (Cuba), Bus 174 (Brazil), Capturing the Friedmans (USA), Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (USA), The Fog of War (USA), The Inheritance: A Fishermans Story (Australia), Lost Boys of Sudan (USA), My Architect (USA), My Flesh and Blood (USA) and The Weather Underground (USA). The foreign language animated films in the Oscar Buzz category include Jester Till (Germany), Tokyo Godfather (Japan) and The Triplets of Belleville (France).

Founded in 1990 by then Mayor Sonny Bono, the PSIFF is one of the largest film festivals in North America. The festival has an attractive film sales and distribution record and is seen by American distributors as one of the best Academy Award campaign marketing tools. The festival also features cultural events, filmmaker tributes, industry seminars and an annual black-tie gala award presentation. The 2004 Palm Springs International Film Festival sponsors include City of Palm Springs, The Desert Sun, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Entertainment Tonight, Tiffany's, Spencer's Restaurant and Spa Resort Casino.

Palm Springs International Film Festival continues from January 8th to the 19th, 2004.

Keiko Beatie

- Pictures of Big fish by Tim Burton
Ewan Mc Gregor
Jessica Lange

- Gregg Schwenk, Executive Director Newport Beach Film Festival, Beth and Andy Freedenberg of San Diego Cinema Society enjoy the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

- Pablo Berger in center, winner of Emerging Filmmaker Award Palm Springs Film Festival. Pictured with Sonoma Film Festival Programmers Liz Reich and Sonya Yonash at Wang's After Party.

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