Dustin Hoffman-Emma Thompson movie to open Palm Springs Film Festival
The 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival, to be held Jan. 8–19, has announced its film line-up: 210 movies from 73 countries, including 77 premieres (14 World, 48 U.S., and 16 North American). No less than 50 of this year’s 67 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submissions will be screened.
The Opening Night film will be screenwriter-director Joel Hopkins’ Last Chance Harvey, in which 2009 Golden Globe nominees Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson have a chance of finding love.
Palm Springs Film Festival gala screenings
Below are the 2009 Palm Spring Film Festival’s other gala screenings. Film information via the festival’s press release.
- $5 a Day (USA) – Marking its U.S. premiere, $5 a Day is a tale of a son forced to reunite with his con-artist father during a cross-country odyssey. Directed by Nigel Cole, the film stars Christopher Walken, Alessandro Nivola, Amanda Peet and Sharon Stone.
- Alien Trespass (USA) – A world premiere, directed by R.W. Goodwin and starring Eric McCormack, Jenni Baird, Dan Lauria and Robert Patrick. Set in 1957, a fiery object from space hurtles into a California desert mountaintop. A murderous creature – the Ghota, bent on destroying all life forms on the planet – escapes from the flying saucer. A benevolent alien, Urp, inhabits the body of Ted Lewis (Eric McCormack), a local astronomer, and with the help of Tammy, a waitress from the local diner, sets out to save mankind.
- Chef’s Special (Spain) – Directed by Nacho Velilla, a cook ditches dreams of Michelin stardom to manage a small barrio eatery. Javier Cámara, Lola Dueñas, Fernando Terjero and Benjamin Vicuña star.
- The Burning Plain (USA) – A U.S. premiere and directorial debut of award-winning screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros), is the layered story of a self-destructive woman and two intertwined families. The Burning Plain stars Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Lawrence and Joaquim de Almeida.
As mentioned further up, the 2009 Palm Springs Film Festival will offer 77 premieres “showcasing the diversity of international cinema.”
World Premieres include: American Primitive (USA), Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner (USA), The Inheritance of War (USA), The Least Among You (USA), Like Dandelion Dust (USA), and Tales from the Script (USA).
North American Premieres include: Flowers of the Sky (Sri Lanka / India), The Green Dumpster Mystery (Israel), Kandisha (Morocco), The Karamazovs (Czech Republic / Poland), Marcello Marcello (Switzerland), Small Crime (Greece), The Witch of the West Is Dead (Japan).
U.S. Premieres include: Dean Spanley (New Zealand / UK), The Girl from Monaco (France), Il Divo (Italy / France), Last Stop 174 (Brazil), The Necessities of Life (Canada), Passchendaele (Canada), Salt of This Sea (Palestine), The Seed of Discord (Italy), When a Man Comes Home (Denmark / Sweden).
Carl Theodor Dreyer & John Schlesinger
There’s more: the Palm Springs Film Festival’s World Cinema Now showcase will feature 93 films “in a wide-ranging overview of contemporary international cinema,” while True Stories will highlight “39 of the best new films in contemporary non-fiction cinema.”
Archival Treasures will feature a trio of films:
- Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1922 silent drama Love One Another / Die Gezeichneten (Germany). Among Dreyer’s best-known films are the classics The Passion of Joan of Arc, Day of Wrath, and Ordet.
- John Schlesinger’s 1969 Best Picture Academy Award winner Midnight Cowboy (USA), starring Best Actor nominees Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, in addition to Best Supporting Actress nominee Sylvia Miles, Brenda Vaccaro, John McGiver, Barnard Hughes, Jennifer Salt, and Bob Balaban.
- Joseph Green and Jan Nowina-Przybylski’s 1937 Yiddish-language drama The Jester / Der Purimshpiler (Poland).
Awards Gala: Amy Adams & Clint Eastwood
The Palm Springs Film Festival’s Awards Gala will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 6. The honorees, all of them with Oscar possibilities, will be the following:
- Doubt actress Amy Adams with the Spotlight Award.
- Revolutionary Road with the Ensemble Performance Award. (The Sam Mendes-directed cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, and Michael Shannon.)
- Rachel Getting Married actress Anne Hathaway with the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting.
- The Secret Life of Bees actress Dakota Fanning with the Rising Star Award.
- Gran Torino director/actor Clint Eastwood with the Career Achievement Award.
- Frost/Nixon director Ron Howard with the Directors Lifetime Achievement Award.
New Voices / New Visions Award
The New Voices / New Visions Award “will honor one of 12 features from new international talents making their first or second films.” Entries include the following:
- Among the Clouds (Iran) – In southwest Iran, near the border with Iraq, a resourceful 16-year-old baggage porter becomes smitten with a slightly older Iraqi girl who’s not what she seems in this bittersweet drama. A U.S. premiere, directed by Rouhollah Hejazi.
- Ciao Bella (Sweden) – When Iranian-born Swede Mustafa is transformed into Latin lover Massimo, his suave manners and sense of style attract working-class beauty Linnea. This sassily humorous love story manages to address serious issues, including national stereotyping, racism and an increasingly sexualized youth environment. A U.S. premiere, directed by Mani Maserrat-Agah.
- Eugene (USA) – Marking its world premiere, Jake Barsha’s feature debut is a brilliantly disturbing psychological thriller about a lonely bachelor who befriends a young hustler and his girlfriend, with disastrous results for all involved. Strong performances – Stuart Bennett in the lead role is particularly fine – support Eugene’s taut script and beautiful camera work.
- Grown Ups (France / Sweden) – This U.S. premiere tells the story of a single French father and his shy teen daughter discover romance and deal with a shift in their own relationship during a Swedish summer holiday. Debuting director Anna Novion proves an astute observer of human interactions in this wistfully charming comic drama.
- Hooked (Romania / France) – A day in the country becomes a crisis of conscience for two lovers after they hit a prostitute with their car. Presumed dead, she suddenly wakes up, and the couple lies to her about the accident. Hooked‘s naturalistic, handheld visual style complements the psychological complexity of the screenplay. A U.S. premiere, directed by Adrian Sitaru.
- Machan (Italy / Sri Lanka / Germany) – Based on a real-life event, Machan tells the story of a group of slum dwellers on the margins of society who find an invitation to a handball tournament in Bavaria, and band together to form the unlikely Sri Lanka National Handball Team. A U.S. premiere, directed by Uberto Pasolini.
- Rain (Bahamas) – Teenager Rain (Renel Naomi Brown) embarks on a quest to find her mother, whom she has never met, and is devastated by what she finds. Director Maria Govan’s powerful debut feature, marking its U.S. premiere, exposes viewers to a side of life in the Bahamas rarely seen by outsiders.
- The Seven Days (Israel) – When a large clan (a who’s who of Israel’s finest performers) gathers for the funeral and shiva of a loved one, bitterness and family feuds soon take precedence over mourning. A North American premiere, directed by Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz.
- The Shaft (China) – Set amid the imposing mountains of western China, the dreams and disappointments of a family of coal mine workers poignantly reflect the plight of a vast number of ordinary laborers unable to climb the ladder of the country’s post-Communist economy. A U.S. premiere, directed by Zhang Chi.
- South Desert (Chile) – Young Sofia finds a letter her mother had written before her recent death. Returned because the addressee was unknown, the letter leads Sofia on an adventure from Spain to the far south of Chile looking for answers. A U.S. premiere, directed by Shawn Garry.
- Unspoken (Belgium) – When something truly heartbreaking happens in a family, the deepest response is often unspoken. A middle-aged Belgian couple struggle with the loss of their daughter five years on. A U.S. premiere, directed by Fien Troch.
- The Wedding Song (Tunisia / France) – This U.S. premiere is Karin Albou’s (Little Jerusalem) sophomore feature and confirms her status as a rising star in the art-film firmament. The story of a Muslim girl and a Jewish girl who bond intensely during the Nazi occupation of Tunis is taboo breaking, sensual and political, all at the same time.
Palm Springs Film Festival Modern Masters showcase
And finally, the 2009 Palm Spring Film Festival’s Modern Masters program will screen 10 films “highlighting the latest work of established directors at the forefront of contemporary international cinema.”
- Adam Resurrected (USA / Israel / Germany) – Paul Schrader’s brilliant new work tells the story of Adam Stein, who grapples with a paralytic case of survivors guilt in the aftermath of the Holocaust. An extraordinary performance by Jeff Goldblum captures the essence of the complex central character, a man who survived while those around him perished. The film also stars Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi, Ayelet Zurer and Moritz Bleibtreu.
- Cherry Blossoms (Germany) – This profoundly moving story of marital love, directed by Doris Dörrie, won the Most Popular Film Award at the Seattle Film Festival. Trudi discovers that Rudi is suffering from a terminal disease, but decides to keep it from him. Instead she plans to take a long-planned trip together to Japan to visit their son.
- Everlasting Moments (Sweden / Denmark) – Veteran Swedish director Jan Troell (best known for The Emigrants, his classic from 1971) returns with this elegant, perfectly realized period family drama starring the luminous Maria Heiskanen as Maria Larsson, a pioneer of Swedish photography – and the mother of seven – at the turn of the 20th century. Troell at his exemplary best.
- Four Nights with Anna (Poland / France) – This beautifully-acted, gracefully told oddball story marks the welcome return of cinematic master Jerzy Skolimowski, after a self-imposed sabbatical. His exquisite new film centers on sad sack Leon (Artur Steranko), who becomes romantically obsessed with nurse Anna (Kinga Preis) whose brutal rape he witnessed – or may have committed.
- The Hurt Locker (USA) – The Hurt Locker is a masterwork thriller that plunges us into the world of highly trained men who defuse bombs for the Army. Based on real experiences, director Kathryn Bigelow keeps the tension amped up from the first scene to create a suspense film that rightly joins the pantheon of great American war films. This U.S. premiere stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes.
- Kabei (Japan) – Set in 1940 Tokyo, veteran Yoji Yamada’s 80th feature is a deeply affecting drama centering on mother and wife Kayo (Sayuri Yoshinaga), who struggles to get along with her two daughters after her professor husband is jailed for his progressive views. A film that mixes poignancy and humor in equal measure.
- Modern Life (France) – The third in a series of films centering on the lives of French paysans. Director Raymond Depardon’s remarkable documentary follows several families who live off the land in rural Haut-Garonne. Told from the farmers’ point of view, Modern Life is a deeply personal look at the complexities of “the simple life.”
- Mommy Is at the Hairdressers (Canada) – School is out for the summer of 1966, but for Élise, the abrupt departure of her long-suffering mother means she’ll have to care for her father and two brothers. Director Léa Pool uses the perfect blend of sweet aesthetics and sorrowful subject matter to tell this poignant coming-of-age story.
- Of Time and the City (UK) – A cinematic ode to Liverpool, England, the film tracks director Terence Davies’ love/hate relationship with his birthplace over the course of his life. Showing the elusive glamour and the ever-present drudgery of daily life, Davies lays bare his inner longing and occasional loathing for the city that formed him.
- White Night Wedding (Iceland) – An irreverent uprooting and updating of Anton Chekhov’s play Ivanov, directed by Baltasar Kormákur. A middle-aged professor about to get married for the second time to a woman half his age – despite the opposition of his future parents-in-law – starts to get cold feet.
Palm Springs Film Festival website.
Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman Last Chance Harvey image: Overture Films.
Poyan Karimi and Chanelle Lindell Ciao Bella image: Götafilm.
Terence Davies’ Of Time and the City poster: British Film Institute.
“Palm Springs Film Festival: Amy Adams & Clint Eastwood + Carl Theodor Dreyer & Iranian Latin Lover” last updated in March 2018.