By Jack Lyons Theatre and Movie Critic

Every year for the last twenty-eight years, the third largest film festival in North America is held in the desert paradise we call Palm Springs.  The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) presents a glorious infusion of the world’ finest movies over the eleven days of the festival.  PSIFF puts on this great movie event that draws Stars, Celebrities, Directors, Producers, Writers, and Filmmakers, from across the globe.

Loyal film fans eager to catch glimpses, or perhaps, take a selfie of movie stars and celebrities as they walk the Red Carpet on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, to a Gala black-tie dinner and Film Awards event held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, will again, be hosted by television star Mary Hart. The Gala is expecting to serve more than 2000 celebrities and guests.

Harold Matzner

Festival Chairman Harold Matzner announced the following 2017 Festival Honorees who will receive Film Festival Awards at the Gala are: Jessica Chastain who receives the Chairman’s Award for her performance in “Molly’s Game”;  Saoirse Ronan receives The Desert Palm Award for her film role in “Lady Bird”;  the Rising Star Award goes to Gal Gadot for her “Wonder Woman” portrayal; the Breakthrough Award honoree is Mary J. Blige for her work in the film “Mudbound”; Allison Janney receives the Spotlight Award for her powerful portrayal in the film“I, Tonya”; The Career Achievement Award this year is being presented to Holly Hunter; The Vanguard Award is an ensemble effort honor, and it goes to the film “The Shape of Water”, directed by Guillermo Del Toro.

Beginning Thursday, January 4th, the festival will screen the riveting opening night film “The Post”, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, and directed by Steven Spielberg.  The thrilling drama centers around Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of The Washington Post newspaper and her forceful and committed editor Ben Bradlee played by Tom Hanks during the Watergate scandals of the 1970’s.  “The Post” is an eerie reminder of how often history repeats itself.  Forty-Five years after Watergate, our country is now grappling with similar political scandals that are consuming the current administration and its war with the media.

On Friday, January 5th, the festival begins screenings of more than 180 films from 77 countries including 39 premiers: 4 world, 12 North American and 23 U.S.A. films. This year the festival is focusing on films from Argentina, under a program category called “Cine Latino” that has 25 films in competition. The festival is rich in various panels, Q &A sessions, at many premieres.

Jessica Chastain

There are also topics covering categories as diverse as: Talking Pictures, Books to Screens, Films from Modern Masters, True Stories and more in panel discussions and Q & A with film industry professionals over the 11-day festival. Such prestigious films as “Darkest Hour, starring gala honoree Gary Oldman, as Winston Churchill, and gala honoree Sam Rockwell stars in the in gritty drama “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri”, and “I, Tonya”, features Allison Janney, as an abusive, alcoholic mother.  All are Oscar-nominated for their performances and will attend the screenings of their films, with discussions to follow.
There is no doubt about it. The films programmed for the 29th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival are a movie junkie’s dream delight.
“I couldn’t be happier with the selection of films this year,” said Artistic Director Michael Lerman.  “In a program that includes all of the shortlisted Foreign Language Oscar nominees, a stellar New Voices New Visions selection, and an embarrassment of riches from Argentina that demanded to be highlighted, and an incredible list of attending talent, there’s plenty to be excited about.  I’m so proud of our team for putting it all together.”

That’s good news for the more than 135,000 expected attendees from all over the country who also can’t wait for the 29th Festival to begin either.  A friendly tip: Remember to bring a sweater or a jacket, and/or a scarf. When the sun goes down, the desert can become chilly.  It will be January after all.
Festival ticket make great stocking stuffer gifts for the holidays.

Gary Oldman

For tickets and Pass information, call 760-778-8979, or go online to

Share post:




More like this

Tips for a Pet-Friendly Vacation

(Family Features) Vacations can be perfect opportunities to spend...


I’ve been asked over the years, “what is it...


A personal observation on American filmmaking exceptionalism When the movie...